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Re: Performance impact of top level definitions

From: Mark H Weaver
Subject: Re: Performance impact of top level definitions
Date: Mon, 14 May 2018 22:55:41 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.3 (gnu/linux)

Hi Brian,

Brian <address@hidden> writes:

> Today I found that top level defines have a significant performance
> impact on Guile (2.2.3). The following program takes about 108 seconds
> to complete on my ThinkPad (an i5-5200U with Arch Linux):
> By simply wrapping that code in a lambda the program finished in about
> 47 seconds. Using lets instead of defines is equally effective.
> I was quite surprised because I initially thought some optimization
> would just substitute those useless nodes symbols away, but it seems
> like that's not the case...

Right.  The problem is that toplevel variables can be mutated by
arbitrary code from other modules, e.g. by 'module-set!', so the
compiler cannot make any assumptions about what values those variables
will contain at runtime.

For non-toplevel variables, the situation is quite different.  In
Scheme, non-toplevel variables can be accessed only from within their
lexical scope, so if such a variable is not 'set!' from within its
scope, the compiler knows that it can never be mutated.  In that case,
it can assume that the variable will always contain its initial value,
which enables a great many optimizations including partial evaluation.


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