bugGNU Octave - Bugs: bug #52858, Consider using C gnulib...


bug #52858: Consider using C gnulib clock_gettime() for Octave cputime()

Submitted by:  Dan Sebald <sebald>
Submitted on:  Wed 10 Jan 2018 05:34:19 PM UTC  
Category:  Performance Severity:  3 - Normal
Priority:  5 - Normal Item Group:  Performance
Status:  None Assigned to:  None
Originator Name:  Open/Closed:  Open
Release:  dev Operating System:  GNU/Linux

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( Jump to the original submission)

Fri 12 Jan 2018 03:44:42 PM UTC, comment #7:

The "resolution" of the time function is not the problem.
If it were, just running the test longer would fix it.

The problem is that, from the very beginning of UNIX days,
kernel processes are NOT interruptible. Therefore any
user process may take any amount of real-time. And,
the attempts measure and make available cpu-time are
affected in the same way. There is no predictable time
lapse in gaining access to the kernel time data.

The answer is the make multiple runs of the same (fairly
long) test and then choose a suitable "average." It can
be argued that the "best" choice is the minimum reported value.
This one will have been least affected by delays during
kernel processes. Keep in mind that read/write to I/O
devices are kernel processes so quite a few seconds can elapse
before anything else can happen to timing calls or anything

This choice was made by the original Bell Labs UNIX folks
when they thought that what they were doing was building a
convenient, single-user, report writing system. The rest is

Even running Linux as a virtual system under a controlling
system which does not use uninterruptible calls does not
fix the problem because the Linux call still has to block until
its results are returned. System efficiency is improved by
this choice, but it does not change the behavior of client

So, any of the timing routines can be chosen.

Michael Godfrey <godfrey>
Project Member
Fri 12 Jan 2018 12:48:04 AM UTC, comment #6:

You're right. Dan's original issue is about using clock_gettime to provide cputime (process elapsed time) with nanosecond resolution. I interjected to comment that I would also like to use clock_gettime so that functions like time, clock, and now would also report nanosecond resolution. The clock_gettime function can do both wall clock time and process time, but it's not portable.

However this is done at the system level, it will also require API changes to octave::sys::base_tm, octave::sys::cpu_time, etc, in the oct-time.h header file to store nanoseconds.

Mike Miller <mtmiller>
Project Administrator
Fri 12 Jan 2018 12:39:52 AM UTC, comment #5:

Oh. I think I was confused by the summary of this report to think that we were talking about using clock_gettime to provide cputime.

In any case, if there isn't a gnulib module for a portability function, then I think we should try to add the wrapper to gnulib. If that can't be done, I'd still like to isolate the portability decisions/wrappers in liboctave's wrapper directory.

John W. Eaton <jwe>
Project Administrator
Fri 12 Jan 2018 12:31:48 AM UTC, comment #4:

The last time I looked they are not provided by gnulib. Gnulib does provide some M4 autoconf code to check whether they are available, and add "-lrt" if necessary, which is what we are already using.

Gnulib does provide a function called "gettime" which calls either nanotime (BSD function?), clock_gettime (POSIX function), or gettimeofday. But this only works as a wall clock function, this wouldn't work as a replacement for process time as reported by getrusage for example.

Mike Miller <mtmiller>
Project Administrator
Fri 12 Jan 2018 12:21:40 AM UTC, comment #3:

I think these functions are provided by gnulib, so I would prefer to use those and be able to just assume that they exist. I do understand that it would require some wrapper functions for portability, but I would prefer to use those as we do for other functions instead of adding #ifdefs in liboctave or libinterp.

John W. Eaton <jwe>
Project Administrator
Thu 11 Jan 2018 11:29:14 PM UTC, comment #2:

Noting here that I would also like to look at using clock_gettime instead of gettimeofday on supported systems for a higher resolution wall clock value as well.

Both of these changes would need to affect the classes defined in liboctave/sys/oct-time.h, replacing all of the microsecond fields with nanosecond resolution fields.

Octave's configure script already checks for the existence of clock_gettime and clock_settime, so code only needs to use the HAVE_CLOCK_GETTIME macro already defined in config.h, as well as testing for the existence of whichever CLOCK_FOO is desired.

Mike Miller <mtmiller>
Project Administrator
Wed 10 Jan 2018 05:45:00 PM UTC, comment #1:

Continuing from this post:


I've implemented the example loops with cputime and tic/toc as functions:

As results, I'm seeing:

I don't think I can conclude there is a statistically significant difference from that, given there could be slightly different CPU usage between invocations.

I do believe though that there could be a difference in the above link, statistically speaking, i.e.,

I wonder if the issue there is that, in fact, the test is physically taking less time to operate than what cputime() reports because cputime() might include a combination of CPU usage from more than one processor core. That is, perhaps some small aspect of this test can be shifted to a second CPU in a multi-threaded environment.

Dan Sebald <sebald>
Wed 10 Jan 2018 05:34:19 PM UTC, original submission:

There was a discussion in another bug that led to the question of whether Octave should use the clock_gettime() in cputime() rather than its current implementation, which I believe is getrusage():


Here is a list of all the pertinent comments in that thread, in reverse chronological order:


This is not a high priority, nor necessarily even an actual, bug. So, this is more just a consideration at this point.

This is unix-based, and Mac OS might be included. There is an "Update" to the winning post in this discussion:


"Update: for OS X, clock_gettime has been implemented as of 10.12 (Sierra)."

Dan Sebald <sebald>


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