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Re: Summary for the glibc benchmark BoF

On Tue, 2015-08-18 at 13:39 +0530, Siddhesh Poyarekar wrote:
> Here's a summary of what transpired in and around the glibc
> benchmarking BoF at the Cauldron last week.  Apologies for sending
> this out late.  The intent of this email is to get things started to
> hopefully have a deliverable by 2.23 release.
> We started with a summary of the current state of benchmarks and
> defined the two problem statements we wanted to tackle viz. the string
> and malloc benchmark inputs and whole system benchmarks.
> The bigger interest was around whole system benchmarks and we came to
> the following points of agreement:
> - Create a separate project outside the glibc source tree that hosts
>   installed-tree testing framework and code for glibc along with code
>   to do whole system benchmarks
> - The glibc source tree should have a make target within it that pulls
>   in the glibc-test project and performs the necessary actions, like
>   building and running installed-tree tests or system benchmark
>   framework
> - Work on the benchmark framework should focus on the schema of the
>   output from the benchmark runs and not the technology.  That way, we
>   allow external tools to run their own benchmarks and submit data for
>   their workloads.  For example, it could be a JSON file with a
>   specified format that captures details about the test environment, a
>   description of the workload being tested and then input and timing
>   data for functions that are being tested.
> - FUTURE: Figure out a way to store the output data and process it
> - FUTURE: Get patterns from the data to come up with representative
>   inputs for the microbenchmarks
> Ondrej has volunteered to work on this.  I guess the next steps would
> be for Ondrej to come up with a first draft and also work with
> sourceware admins to make a new project namespace for this.
> As for the string benchmarks, opinions on whether the current
> benchmarks are useful don't seem to converge.  I got the impression
> that folks from IBM were content with using the string benchmarks as a
> valid input, while Ondrej and a couple of others strongly believe that
> the benchmarks are not representative.  I lean towards the latter, but
> I don't have enough background to definitively lean either way.  We
> concluded in the end that we would just have to wait for someone to
> come up with some concrete improvement suggestions for these
> benchmarks.  The outputs from whole system benchmarks may help us
> build a representative input set for the string microbenchmarks.
I don't think IBM is saying that the current benchmarks are complete or
completely representative. We are saying that current benchmarks are
what we have, and a assertion that the lack of some hypothetical
"better" benchmark, should not be used as an excuse to block a patch.

I would personally like to see more representative benchmarks based on
actual usage.

I would also assert that benchmarks should be split into representative
(of normal usage) and extreme (for example testing for quadratic
behavior or only testing for the needle match at the very end of the
haystack) categories. And clearly labeled as such.

> Those present at the BoF, please add to this or make corrections if
> you think I'm misremembering any points.
> Thanks,
> Siddhesh

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