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How can I make my Perl program run faster?

by faq_monk (Initiate)
on Oct 13, 1999 at 02:56 UTC ( #784=perlfaq nodetype: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Current Perl documentation can be found at perldoc.perl.org.

Here is our local, out-dated (pre-5.6) version:

The best way to do this is to come up with a better algorithm. This can often make a dramatic difference. Chapter 8 in the Camel has some efficiency tips in it you might want to look at. Jon Bentley's book ``Programming Pearls'' (that's not a misspelling!) has some good tips on optimization, too. Advice on benchmarking boils down to: benchmark and profile to make sure you're optimizing the right part, look for better algorithms instead of microtuning your code, and when all else fails consider just buying faster hardware.

A different approach is to autoload seldom-used Perl code. See the AutoSplit and AutoLoader modules in the standard distribution for that. Or you could locate the bottleneck and think about writing just that part in C, the way we used to take bottlenecks in C code and write them in assembler. Similar to rewriting in C is the use of modules that have critical sections written in C (for instance, the PDL module from CPAN).

In some cases, it may be worth it to use the backend compiler to produce byte code (saving compilation time) or compile into C, which will certainly save compilation time and sometimes a small amount (but not much) execution time. See the question about compiling your Perl programs for more on the compiler--the wins aren't as obvious as you'd hope.

If you're currently linking your perl executable to a shared libc.so, you can often gain a 10-25% performance benefit by rebuilding it to link with a static libc.a instead. This will make a bigger perl executable, but your Perl programs (and programmers) may thank you for it. See the INSTALL file in the source distribution for more information.

Unsubstantiated reports allege that Perl interpreters that use sfio outperform those that don't (for IO intensive applications). To try this, see the INSTALL file in the source distribution, especially the ``Selecting File IO mechanisms'' section.

The undump program was an old attempt to speed up your Perl program by storing the already-compiled form to disk. This is no longer a viable option, as it only worked on a few architectures, and wasn't a good solution anyway.

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