[Numpy-discussion] String sort

Francesc Altet faltet@carabos....
Wed Feb 13 11:56:11 CST 2008

A Wednesday 13 February 2008, Charles R Harris escrigué:
> OK,
> The new quicksorts are in svn. Francesc, can you check them out?

Looks good here.  However, you seem to keep using your own copy_string() 
instead of plain memcpy().  In previous benchmarks, I've seen that 
copy_string() is faster than memcpy only for small values of the length 
of the block to be copied.

In order to do a better assessment of this affirmation, I've created a 
small benchmark (attached) in order to compare your copy_string against 
system memcpy when sorting array strings.  I've also come up with a new 
function (copy_string2, attached), that tries to combine the best of 
copy_string and memcpy.  Look at the attached plot in order to see how 
they behave.

In the plot, you can see how memcpy is generally faster than 
copy_string, specially for relatively large string lengths.  However, 
copy_string can be faster for small lengths (the maximum difference, a 
20%, happens around 8/10 bytes).  It may happen that you were doing 
time mesaurements whith strings of size 8, and you were driven to the 
wrong conclusion that copy_string was faster than memcpy.

In case you think that performance for small string lengths is 
important, you may want to include copy_string2, that uses one method 
or another depending on the size block to be copied.  There is of 
course a small impact in performance (one more condition test was 
introduced), but it is rather negligible.

Finally, you also will have noticed the indirect sort line in the plot.  
This is because I was curious about when this method would win a direct 
sort.  And, by looking at the plot, it seems that the crosspoint is 
around strings of 128 bytes (much more in fact that I initially 
thought), and starts to be very significant (around 40% faster) at 256 
bytes.  So perhaps it would make sense to add the possibility to choose 
the indirect method when sorting those large strings.  This, of course, 
would require more memory for the indices, but using 4 or 8 additional 
bytes (depending if we on 32-bit or 64-bit), when each string takes 200 
bytes, doesn't seem too crazy.  In any case, it would be nice to 
document this in docstrings.

Be warned, I'd like to stress out that these are my figures for my _own 
laptop_.  It would be nice if you can verify all of this with other 
achitectures (your Core2 machine seems different enough).  I can run 
the benchmarks on Windows (installed in the same laptop) too.  Tell me 
if you are interested on me doing this.


>0,0<   Francesc Altet     http://www.carabos.com/
V   V   Cárabos Coop. V.   Enjoy Data
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