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From "Erick Erickson" <>
Subject Lucene 2.1, using FieldSelector speeds up my app by a factor of 10+, numbers attached
Date Tue, 27 Feb 2007 14:30:14 GMT
I thought I'd put up some numbers that may be useful for people who
find themselves doing performance tuning and/or are just curious.

See then end of this e-mail for design notes

DISCLAIMER: Your results may vary. Once I figured out the
speed-up I got by using FieldSelector, I stopped looking for
further improvements or refining my test harness since we're now
getting better than 3 times the design performance target. So,
while I'm quite confident I'm seeing a *very* significant improvement,
these numbers aren't all that precise.

I'm into the performance tuning phase now, so I wrote a little test
harness that creates a configurable number of threads firing queries
off at my search engine with no delays, first firing off a warm-up
query before starting any of the threads. It's a fairly simple
measurement, but the results are pretty consistent and way better
than "one-one thousand, two - one thousand"...

This particular application returns lots summaries at a time as a
result of a search, the default is 500. This is summary information,
so I only return 6 fields from each document. I'm using a
TopDocs to assemble results.

Baseline QPS for returning 1,000 results 0.9 or so queries per
second (QPS), before any tuning. This is not acceptable in our app.....

So I started by asking:
What happens if I retrieve only one doc?
What happens if I retrieve 100 docs?
What happens if I retrieve 1000 docs?

All the above require the same search effort, including sorting, so the
fact that my results were as follows lead me to scratch my head
since I expected the time to be spent in searching and sorting. Note
that these numbers are with default (relevance) sorting. Sorting on
other fields costs about 0.2 QPS, so I'll ignore them.
returning     1 doc,  33 qps
returning  100 docs, 4.34 qps
returning 1000 docs, 0.88 qps (ZERO.88. Less than 1)

Hmmmm, sez I. This is surprising. So I commented out the document
fetch and kludged in hard-coded responses for the data I would have
gotten from the loaded document and got 11 QPS. So then I
uncommented the document fetch (without FieldSelector) but still
used fake field data and was back to 0.89 QPS. Men have been
hung on flimsier evidence.

So, I poked around and found FieldSelector, which has been
mentioned several times on the mailing list, but I hadn't found reason
to use it yet. It took about 1/2 hour to implement and run my first test.
Then I spent another hour realizing that I had foolishly excluded a
couple of compressed un-indexed fields that could be loaded. If a field
can be loaded the usual way, it can be loaded with a FieldSelector.

Anyway, here's the results of using FieldSelector to load only the
fields I need.
returning 1,000 docs 12.5 QPS excluding the 2 compressed fields.
                      (just skipping them)
returning 1,000 docs 7.14 QPS including loading the compressed

So, I regenerated the index without compressing those two fields,
and the result is
returning 1,000 docs, all necessary fields, none compressed: 9 QPS

The regenerated index has two fields (one an integer and one the
title of the book) that were stored compressed and not indexed in
the 7.14 QPS case, and stored and indexed UN_TOKENIZED in
the 9 QPS case. No, don't ask me what I was thinking when I
compressed a 4 digit field. I plead advancing senility.

And the little moral here, one I return to repeatedly. The preliminary
test took me maybe 3 hours to write and get the first set of
anomalous results, which pointed me in a completely different
direction than I expected. There's no substitute for data when
performance tuning.

Design notes:

I strongly suspect that the meta-data heavy design of this index is
the main reason for the differences I'm finding when I use
IndexReader.document(doc, FieldSelector) rather than
IndexReader.document(doc). I doubt (but have no evidence) that
an index with no meta-data would get this kind of performance

My particular application indexes 20,000+ books, some of them
quite large (i.e. over 7,000 pages). The index approaches 8G. I
designed it to avoid needing a database, so I store a LOT of data
I don't search. Some of it is compressed and the meta-data is not
indexed. The point is that in this particular application there may
be as much data stored as indexed for each book. And extracting
it, particularly the compressed fields (which may be quite large)
turns out to be expensive. I haven't calculated an exact ratio of
stored to indexed data. And, far and away the largest amount of
meta-data (I'm guessing 90%) is irrelevant to the search results
I'm concentrating on here. So avoiding the overhead of loading the
unneeded meta-data is where the savings is coming from I believe.

The underpinnings of this design is that I need to search lots of
page text, but only when displaying a specific book do I care about
things like how many pages are in each chapter, the start and end
page of each chapter, the size of the image corresponding to each
page, etc. I never have to search the meta-data so I store it but
don't index it. This allows me to avoid connecting to a database,
simplifying the application considerably.

Let me add a HUGE thanks for the FieldSelector (a subset of lazy
loading?) and the work that went into it. It's a rare pleasure (actually,
not all that rare in Lucene <G>) to find a ready-made solution to
my problem if I'm just smart enough to look for it.

Otis, Yonik, Eric Feel free to add anything from this e-mail
to any documentation you wish if you think it'd be useful there.


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