package bechamel

  1. Overview
  2. Docs

Bechamel, a simple and agnostic micro-benchmarking framework.

Bechamel is a simple and agnostic micro-benchmarking framework to help the developer prove and compare metrics for a given small function. It's measuring the performance of something "small", like a system call. Bechamel does not do, as we say, a macro-benchmark which can show a performance regression or I/O congestion for instance.

It just permits to assert that a simple call of a small function fn1 can be faster than a call of another small function fn2 (if you use a time metric). In this way, it asserts that fn1 should be more efficient than fn2 and it lets the developer deduce the best choice according to the runtime context.

Bechamel should not lead to premature optimization. It gives only clues/metrics about what you use, but you must recontextualize results according to your case to lead to certain optimizations.

How to use Bechamel?

Bechamel is split into 3 parts:

  • A user interface to define tests (your small function)
  • A runner which will record required metrics
  • An analyzer which will analyze raw metrics and give you a stated result

This is the core of Bechamel where the user is able to:

  • define its own tests
  • use its own metrics
  • have a choice between 2 analyses (for instance, Ordinary Least Square analysis or RANdom SAmple Consensus analysis)

Make a test.

The Test gives an API which permits defining your tests. Let's take the example of the recursive factorial and the "imperative" factorial:

let rec fact0 n =
  if n = 0 then 1
  else n * fact0 (n - 1)

let fact1 n =
  let m = ref 0 in
  let v = ref 1 in
  while !m < n do
    m := !m + 1 ;
    v := !v * !m ;
  done ; !v

From these small functions, we are able to make a test for each function and group them into one test:

let test0 = Test.make ~name:"recursive"
  (Staged.stage @@ fun () -> fact0 120)
let test1 = Test.make ~name:"imperative"
  (Staged.stage @@ fun () -> fact1 120)
let test  = Test.make_grouped ~name:"factorial" ~fmt:"%s %s"
  [ test0; test1; ]

The user is able to make multiple kinds of tests:

  • A simple one as we did above
  • An indexed one which can take an int as an argument. For instance, we can execute our fact function with a set of ints.
  • A test which requires a "resource" which must be allocated before the benchmark and released after. For instance, we can allocate a socket, run Unix.write and record metrics and release (Unix.close) the resource then.
  • Finally, we can define an indexed test with a required resource

Run the benchmark.

Then, you need to run the benchmark and record metrics. Bechamel is agnostic to the system: it permits recording a few metrics like the Toolkit.Instance.monotonic_clock or how many words were allocated into the minor heap Toolkit.Instance.minor_allocated.

Depending on the execution context, the user is able to add some new metrics. For instance, on Linux, you can record the Bechamel_perf.Instance.cpu_clock - but it's not a part of the core distribution. More abstractly, Bechamel is able to record any metrics as far as the user is able to provide a Bechamel.S.MEASURE.

For instance, we will try to record the monotonic clock: it represents the absolute elapsed wall-clock time since an arbitrary, fixed point in the past (usually, the time since the program began running).

let benchmark () =
  let instances = Instance.[ monotonic_clock ] in
  let cfg = Benchmark.cfg ~limit:2000 ~stabilize:true
    ~quota:(Time.second 0.5) () in
  Benchmark.all cfg instances tests

The benchmark has many options and you should take a look at Benchmark.cfg. They permit to refine the context of the execution. For instance, you can stabilize the garbage-collector.

The function gives you raw results (see Measurement_raw). You can manipulate it as is or analyze it to extract useful information.

Analyze results.

Finally, you probably want to know the time spent by our factorial functions! This result requires to analyze our metrics. Indeed, if you run one time fact0 and record the monotonic clock, you will probably get a partial result which fluctuated a lot per run:

$ cat > <<EOF
> let rec fact0 x =
>   if x = 0 then 1
>   else x * fact0 (x - 1)
> let () =
>   let t0 = Unix.gettimeofday () in
>   let _  = fact0 200 in
>   let t1 = Unix.gettimeofday () in
>   Format.printf "%f\n%!" (t1 -. t0)
$ ocamlfind opt -package unix -linkpkg
$ ./a.out
$ ./a.out

This is why Bechamel exists. From metrics, it can estimate the time spent by our test. There are 2 methods to do that:

  • calculate the Ordinary Least Square from metrics
  • calculate the RANdom Sample Consensus from metrics

In our cases, we will use Analyze.ols:

let analyze results =
  let ols = Analyze.ols ~bootstrap:0 ~r_square:true
    ~predictors:[| |] in
  let results = Analyze.all ols Instance.monotonic_clock results in
  Analyze.merge ols [ Instance.monotonic_clock ] [ results ]

The main question behind this function is: I would like to compare what with what? By default, the benchmark iterates a certain time on your function. For each iteration, it will execute run time(s) your function and this number increases for each iteration:

  | run | time |call of [fn]|
  | 1   | 19   | 1          |
  | 2   | 25   | 2          |
  | 3   | 37   | 3          |
  | 4   | 47   | 4          |
  | 5   | 56   | 5          |

From these metrics, we can fit a curve: a * x + b = y where, from our code, x = and y = Instance.monotonic_clock. OLS and RANSAC are algorithms which try to fit this curve. Then, a will become the time spent by our function for x = 1 and this is what we want:

> How much time do I spend if I call my function one time?

Some details differ between OLS and RANSAC but the documentation can help you to determine which one you should take.

Show results.

Bechamel has many ways to show results, but the core still is agnostic to the system and does not need anything (like Unix) to show results. However, the distribution comes with many possibilities:

  • A notty which shows your results in a terminal
  • An HTML + JavaScript which produces an index.html

We will try to show the results via our terminal, but the HTML + JavaScript support has the ability to show you more information (such as the curve for instance):

let () = Bechamel_notty.Unit.add
  (Measure.unit Instance.monotonic_clock)

let img (window, results) =
  Bechamel_notty.Multiple.image_of_ols_results ~rect:window results

open Notty_unix

let () =
  let window =
    match winsize Unix.stdout with
    | Some (w, h) -> { Bechamel_notty.w; h }
    | None -> { Bechamel_notty.w= 80; h= 1; } in
  let results = benchmark () in
  let results = analyze results in
  img (window, results) |> eol |> output_image

You can compile (with dune) the program with:

$ cat >dune <<EOF
> (executable
>  (name example)
>  (modules example)
>  (libraries bechamel notty.unix bechamel-notty))
$ dune build ./example.exe
$ dune exec ./example.exe
│name                    │  monotonic-clock          │
│  factorial functional  │            643.0477 ns/run│
│  factorial imperative  │            129.1994 ns/run│
module S : sig ... end
module Measure : sig ... end
module Benchmark : sig ... end
module Test : sig ... end
module Staged : sig ... end

Staged value.

module Measurement_raw : sig ... end
module Linear_algebra : sig ... end
module Analyze : sig ... end

Analyze module.

module Toolkit : sig ... end
module Time : sig ... end

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