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Date: -- (:)
From: Brian Hurt <bhurt@s...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] The boon of static type checking
On Mon, 7 Feb 2005, Michael Walter wrote:

> On Sun, 6 Feb 2005 23:34:02 -0600 (CST), Brian Hurt <> wrote:
> > Probably a bad idea, but I've got to jump in here.
> > 
> > Full disclosure: I *hate* C++.  Mainly because I've actually written real
> > programs in it.  The next time I have to use C++ in any sort of serious
> > way I'm registering and starting a website to catalog all the
> > different ways C++ sucks.  Feel free to stop reading at this point.
> :-)
> > ...
> > > g++ seems to generate better
> > > code than ocamlopt for similar simple problems
> > > (see Alioth for quantitative evidence given silly
> > > set of sample 'problems')
> > 
> > Yep.  And, conservatively, 10 times as much effort has gone into the gcc
> > optimizer as the Ocaml optimizer.  Possibly 100 times.  For, according to
> > Alioth, about a 10% improvement.  It's only with gcc 3.x that C++ managed
> > to beat Ocaml on performance.
> More effort having gone into gcc and better performance of gcc are
> arguments pro gcc, right? ;-)

If the 10-30% performance advantage (best case) is the difference between 
success and failure, then maybe.  Of course, going to a professional C/C++ 
complier like Intel's cc, or IBM's xlc, will buy you another 5-10% over 
GCC, as they've put maybe 10x more effort into their compilers than has 
gone into gcc.

This is, of course, assuming that a) you are falling into the best case
situation, and b) you'd have implemented the same algorithm in both cases,
and c) time to implement is irrelevent.  Of course, if time to implement
really is irrelevent, than going to hand tuned assembly will buy you 
another 10-30%, generally, and occassionally 2x performance (SSE/Altivec 

> > > IMHO the single major inefficiency in C++ is also a source
> > > of efficiency -- lack of a garbage collector.
> > 
> > It's a source of efficiency on the small scale- it's easy to write a 1,000
> > line program with hand allocation.  Rather harder to write a 10,000 line
> > program, and a major bitch to write a 100,000 line program without garbage
> > collection.
> Personally I like it that in C++ you actually have the choice to use
> appropriate garbage collection schemes when you desire to do (yep,
> multiple kind of GCs for different subsystems/data/... is a win).
> Makes it easier with > 1,000,000 line programs :-)

Yes!  Having a choice means you can fuck it up!

And I disbeleive the "makes it easier with large programs" statement.  
It's contrary to all evidence I've seen, and all my experience.  The 
complexity of a program is, I've postulated, a function of the number of 
interactions between different parts of the code.  And that therefor the 
innate complexity approximately scales with the square of the number of 
lines of code- so a 10,000 line program is 100 times as complicated as a 
1,000 line program.  Brooks has evidence of this as well.

So the trick to managing complexity is limiting the interactions (to just 
the interactions needed).  Unexpected/unintended interactions are 
generally called "bugs".  As a side note, this is one of the really nice 
things about applicative semantics.

Now, if there are multiple different "memory management domains", that 
require different behaviors, you are now introducing new interactions to 
the program.  This is introducing complexity. 

A classic example of this problem in action.  I actually encountered this 
in real code (of course, this is the distilled example, the real example 
was spread out over a few tens of thousands of lines of code):

#include <string>
#include <iostream>

class base {
        virtual char * getName(void) = 0;
class exA : public base {
        char * getName(void) { return "exA"; }
class exB : public base {
        char * name;
        exB() {
            name = new char[4];
            strcpy(name, "exB");
        virtual ~exB() { delete[] name; }
        char * getName(void) { return name; }

class exC : public base {
        char * getName(void) {
           char * retval = new char[4];
           strcpy(retval, "exC");
           return retval;

void breakMe(base * ptr) {
    char * name = ptr->getName();
    delete ptr;
    std::cout << "Object name was \"" << name << "\".\n";
    delete[] name;

> > Don't assume that inlining is optimization.  Actually, it generally isn't.
> > Having actually timed it on modern hardware, a function call costs like
> > 2-3 clock cycles these days.  Plus 1-2 clock cycles per argument.  This is
> > compared to the 10-30 clock cycles a mispredicted branch costs, the 20+
> > clock cycles an L1 cache miss/L2 cache hit costs, and the 100-350+ clock
> > cycles of an L2 cache miss/memory fetch.
> Inlining for very small functions generally is an optimization.

Very small functions, yes.  But it's less of an optimization than people 
think, and (especially in C++) it gets way overused.

Allowing the programmer to force some functions to be inlined is right up 
there with allowing the programmer to force some variables to be stored in 
registers in usefullness.