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From "Roy T. Fielding" <field...@apache.org>
Subject Re: [SUMMARY] time discussion
Date Sat, 13 Jul 2002 03:48:42 GMT
A fine summary of the situation.

On Friday, July 12, 2002, at 12:42  PM, William A. Rowe, Jr. wrote:
>> I. We represent all time quantum in the same scale throughout APR.  That
>>    scale is in microseconds.
>
> Which is goodness, because we don't ever have to go back to docs and ask,
> "Does that function take seconds or apr time?"

It's easy to keep track of that within APR. What is hard is dealing with
both APR and other libraries within the code of APR users, since the rest
of the universe thinks in seconds.  The accessor functions were a
significant improvement.

>> II. Performance is an issue, we are attempting to reclaim CPU cycles lost
>>     converting, especially between seconds and microseconds, both 
>> internally
>>     and externally (by other apps.)
>
> And everyone agrees we want this as fast as possible, without introducing
> bugs due to [whatever sort of] programmer confusion.

Yes, +1 on applying the binary microseconds patch -- its far better than
the current state.

>> III. The existing name is an issue to Roy and others who are confused by 
>> the
>>      similarity between apr_time_t and time_t (in the ANSI/POSIX 
>> definitions.)
>
> And I agree it's an obstacle to 1) porting old code to APR, and 2) folks 
> quickly
> getting comfortable with APR, when they are just learning the library.

I haven't been confused by it.  I just have a better memory of the number
of times that you have patched various aspects of httpd and apr-util
due to people confusing them, or simply changing the interface using
mass find/replace.  Most of those bugs were introduced by the authors
of APR, so I fail to see how "just learning" applies.

>> IV. Without sacrificing resolution, I put forward a proposal that we use
>>     a binary representation of microseconds.  Mr. Stoddard has determined
>>     that the binary representation we presented does reduce the overall 
>> cpu
>>     instructions and clock cycles in httpd request processing, as 
>> expected.
>
> This has two benefits.  Scalar math operations simply work; computation
> of deltas doesn't require additional carry operations.  However, seconds
> can be quickly grabbed with a binary shift, so there is no huge integer
> division to contend with.  It's an all-around performance win.
>
> However, it's mildly confusing to work with, without the macros.  Those
> macros need to be thoroughly vetted for range and overflow errors, etc.

The casts should be removed and the interval time really should
have the same size as epoch time.

>> V. Aaron and others submit that we should change the name of the type
>>    if we change the scale, to assure our APR library users aren't 
>> tripped up
>>    by casual msec = t / 1000 computations in their existing code.  This 
>> just
>>    happens to coincide with Roy's concerns in (III.) above.
>
> And with (III.) above, it just makes good sense to pick new names for this
> new type, IF we are going to have a contract with the programmers about
> the representation.  We can have compatibility macros until the old 
> symbols
> are deprecated, and Aaron and others who are concerned with catching all
> instances of the old usage can disable the compat macros.

Er, that would have been a good idea, had it been deployed earlier.

>> VI. Brian and others have asked that we have an undefined scalar value
>>     [with no contract to the users about it's representation.]  Roy and 
>> others
>>     object, due to overflow and range considerations, and binary 
>> compatibility
>>     considerations [as it's all in macros that aren't updated by new 
>> binaries].
>
> I really don't see a win here.  Why have no contract?  We aren't hiding 
> the
> definitions within accessor functions behind an opaque type.  There is NO
> type safety when you use C scalars for a type.
>
> And the code can never be binary drop-in replaceable, the time 
> manipulation
> was all compiled into the user's code from the macros, it isn't buried 
> safely
> inside of APR.

I just don't believe in partially-implemented ADTs.  It needs to be
either abstract to hide implementation details or written in stone
such that the implementation details are guaranteed across platforms.
One or the other is okay with me, but not both.

>> VII. Ryan and others submit that we need two types, in fact; one absolute
>>      measure (from epoch 1.1.1970) and one 'interval' or 'delta' that 
>> represents
>>      a span, rather than a time.  This is the case in APR today.
>
> And we all agree here.  The key words, time and span make the most sense
> after I considered it.  span is fairly well adopted in the C/C++/STL 
> world.
>
>> VIII. From all of the above came the original discussion of naming.  
>> Ryan and
>>       others believe we should not change the name of the type, 
>> whatsoever.
>>       The sub-argument is between a strongly defined name contract, e.g.
>>       busec in the identifier, or a completely ambigious name with no 
>> contract
>>       of the scale's unit.
>
> And I stand on a strongly named, intuitive names that warn you not to just
> pass around seconds.  That leaves us with something like;
>
> apr_time_busec_t
> apr_span_busec_t
>
> which conveys that the span is measured in buseconds.

+1

> I'm suggesting the time/span before busec so we don't have to go about
> renaming EVERY SINGLE apr_time_fn() to a new type.  Can we all live
> with apr_time_() functions addressing apr_time_busec_t values?  Or do
> we have to go to the extreme of renaming these all apr_time_busec_fn()?

*shrug*

>> IX. Roy's original comments yesterday went back to item (II.) above, and
>>     reintroduced to the optimization discussion the options of either 
>> using
>>     seconds to those apr functions that don't need precision, and/or 
>> replacing
>>     our time definition with a structure (seperate seconds and useconds 
>> fields.)
>>     These options were debated/voted upon several times before on the 
>> APR list.
>
> To the idea of both a seconds and a fine-resolution time type in APR... I 
> say
> no friggin way.  All of us have introduced bugs in code at one time or 
> another
> by mixing up our seconds, mseconds and useconds, no?
>
> One scale for time in APR is sufficient.  That's the way NSPR went as 
> well, IIRC.
>
> To the other idea of going back to a structure, that has a huge 
> performance
> penalty when you need to compute deltas.  Simple add/subtract becomes
> 10+ cpu instructions.  That's the main objection Dean and myself make.

Bah! That's nothing compared to the multiply and divides.  Once those
are gone, I can live with it either way.

> However, if you take a little wrapper [dunno how portable this is] you 
> get;

It isn't portable.  In any case, macros are better than bitfields
because you only want to do the type conversion once when coding at
the lesser precision level.

> The point I'm making, however, is that a busec representation is very 
> close,
> cpu-wise, to a 2-int structure, while dropping the number of cpu cycles
> required to do basic addition and subtraction.
>
> Only the usec/msec/nsec into busec computation becomes expensive
> (that is a shift then divide).  busec into those units is a shift - 
> multiply,
> which is much faster.  Since we regularly obtain something other than
> usec (such as 100ns units on NT, or msec for timeouts), this really isn't
> a penalty that will cost us often, and it's one we already pay much more
> frequently today than we will with the new semantics.

How about approximate conversion functions for those who don't care
about the gain or loss of a few microseconds?  The poll implementation
is one example.

....Roy


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