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Matts (1087)

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I work for MessageLabs [] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Friday February 01, 2002
02:26 AM

PurePerl speed

[ #2574 ]

I managed to get the parse of large.xml (a 70K file) down from 9 seconds to about 7 or 8 seconds. Not a huge improvement - and I didn't feel my time was terribly well spent, at least until I tried bleadperl (5.7.2 current), where previously it had been significantly slower (about 17 seconds) and was now down to about 8 or 9 seconds (it will always be slower because it does many more unicode checks when running under a unicode capable perl). So that's good.

Well good is perhaps an overstatement, since libxml2's "xmllint" program takes 29ms to parse the same file. Ah well, I think it's time to stop worrying about parsing performance, and start thinking about full compliance instead.

Why does perl make for such a crappy parser?

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  • Because Perl s***s at XML ;--) (I will hunt you down anywhere you hide muaaaahahahaha!)
  • Matt, it may be obvious, but have you compared the algorithms used at xmllint and your Pure Perl parser?

    C allows some optimizations where Perl allow them to occur in other places.
    -- Godoy.
    • The problem is that Perl is just slow. Not really much I can do about that. When you compare it to C, where it can do really nice things like char = ++*p to get the current character and move to the next byte in a string . With perl a similar idiom is: $char = substr($str, 0, 1, ''), which has a lot more overhead (same for a regexp to do the same). Character-wise coding in perl has always been a bit of a pain.
      • Err, that should have been char = *p++.

        My C sucks ;-)
      • Maybe someone needs to write a character-array manipulation class, a la PDL for huge matrix crunching. The class would gain a lot in efficiency for trading away the many capabilities Perl ordinarily gives. This would be something gross in XS, I'm sure.

        Or maybe, if I'm thinking of writing a custom text-manipulation class for Perl, something's dreadfully wrong with the world. In much the same way that we always took XML::Parser's dependence on a C parser as an indication that something was wrong (and we

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • I'm presuming the answer is "Yes," but did you profile the code?

    matts: "Yes, jdavidb, I profiled the code and discovered 80% of the processing occurs in statements like $c = substr($buf, 0, 1); Get off my case! :)"

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • Hehe, yeah I did profile, lots. (out of interest, anyone know why "use File::Temp" causes DProf to segfault?)

      I'm going to post something to perlmonks including the profiling output and the heavy subs in question. Maybe someone there can help out.