I’m currently writing some of my R functions in Julia to improve
performance. In R it is bad form to write a loop. Instead there are
vapply that map a function across a
list. They are much faster and can be more readable than writing a
loop. So in converting the code to Julia I was replacing the
map. Then I would benchmark the Julia function compared
to the R function and I was seeing a performance benefit but nothing
to write home about. This was troubling as the
benchmarks suggest that Julia is
much faster than R. I was doing something wrong and decided to
investigate the performance difference between a loop and map in
using BenchmarkTools using Statistics
In this simple example, we want to count the amount of elements are assigned a cluster label.
clusterLabels = [1,1,2,2,3,3,5]
The naive implementation using
map can be written as:
function pointsPerCluster_map(clusterLabels) map(i-> sum(clusterLabels .== i), 1:maximum(clusterLabels)) end pointsPerCluster(clusterLabels) mapBM = @benchmark pointsPerCluster_map($clusterLabels)
BenchmarkTools.Trial: memory estimate: 21.73 KiB allocs estimate: 18 -------------- minimum time: 2.794 μs (0.00% GC) median time: 4.319 μs (0.00% GC) mean time: 6.917 μs (41.06% GC) maximum time: 6.618 ms (99.87% GC) -------------- samples: 10000 evals/sample: 8
So of the order of microseconds, which seems reasonable enough. When you write the same code in R you get a median of about 6-7 microseconds. So the Julia gets about a 2x speed up, nice!
But when you unpack the map and write it in a loop the results are almost unbelievable.
function pointsPerCluster_loop(clusterLabels) maxSize = maximum(clusterLabels) ppc = zeros(Int64, maxSize) for i in clusterLabels ppc[i] += 1 end ppc end pointsPerCluster_loop(clusterLabels) loopBM = @benchmark pointsPerCluster_loop($clusterLabels)
BenchmarkTools.Trial: memory estimate: 128 bytes allocs estimate: 1 -------------- minimum time: 53.101 ns (0.00% GC) median time: 57.738 ns (0.00% GC) mean time: 91.857 ns (13.29% GC) maximum time: 57.285 μs (99.79% GC) -------------- samples: 10000 evals/sample: 985
By using a for loop we are now in nanosecond territory. We can
extract the median runtime of both approaches and use the
function to give a final say.
BenchmarkTools.TrialJudgement: time: +7380.62% => regression (5.00% tolerance) memory: +17287.50% => regression (1.00% tolerance)
A performance improvement of 7,000% and 17,000% better memory performance. Unbelievable results!
If you are making the leap from R to Julia like for like translation might not be optimal. Instead start thinking about loops again