[webkit-dev] Iterating SunSpider

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Tue Jul 7 16:45:23 PDT 2009

On Jul 7, 2009, at 4:28 PM, Mike Belshe wrote:

> When SunSpider was first created, regexps were a small proportion of  
> the total execution in what were the fastest publicly available at  
> the time. Eventually, everything else got much faster. So at some  
> point, SunSpider said "it might be a good idea to quadruple the  
> speed of regexp matching now". But if it used a geometric mean, it  
> would always say it's a good idea to quadruple the speed of regexp  
> matching, unless it omitted regexp tests entirely. From any starting  
> point, and regardless of speed of other facilities, speeding up  
> regexps by a factor of N would always show the same improvement in  
> your overall score. SunSpider, on the other hand, was deliberately  
> designed to highlight the area where an engine most needs improvement.
> I don't think the optimization of regex would have been effected by  
> using a different scoring mechanism.  In both scoring methods, the  
> score of the slowest test is the best pick for improving your  
> overall score.

I don't see how that's the case with geometric means. With a geometric  
mean, the score of the test you can most easily optimize is the best  
pick, assuming you goal is to most improve the overall score.  
Improving the fastest test by a factor of 2 improves your score  
exactly as much as improving the slowest test by a factor of 2. Thus,  
there is no bias towards improving the slowest test, unless there is  
reason to believe that test would be the easiest to optimize. We chose  
summation specifically to avoid this phenomenon - we wanted the  
benchmark to make us think about what most needs improvement, not just  
what is easiest to optimize.

(There are other benchmarks that use summation, for example iBench,  
though I am not sure these are examples of excellent benchmarks. Any  
benchmark that consists of a single test also implicitly uses  
summation. I'm not sure what other benchmarks do is as relevant of the  
technical merits.)


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