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David Kastrup wrote:
For some callbacks getting information from TeX, Taco switched the
data passed into Lua from strings to integers and reportedly got a
speedup of about 10 from that.

I suppose that's possible if you're measuring just the cost of
the callback. But it certainly doesn't jive with my experience.

Here's a simple experiment: you can get string.gmatch to return
either an index (as an integer) or a capture (as a string). The
first option is slightly faster (but in my experience not enough
to make it useful if you're going to need the string eventually).

Anyway, it's makes for a simple benchmark.

The following program runs through a string of about 50k 1000
times, calling gmatch with either the pattern "()...", which
returns every third index) or the pattern "(...)", which returns
every third substring of 3 characters. To increase the cost of
string allocation, I actually cycle through patterns with from
2 to 21 dots. Here's the program:

local data = [[
-- I used /usr/share/games/fortunes/literature here, it's about 50k

local count = 0
local pat1, pat2
if ... == "int" then
  pat1, pat2 = '()', ''
elseif ... == "str" then
  pat1, pat2 = '(', ')'
if pat1 then
  for j = 1, 1000 do
    local pat = pat1 .. ('.'):rep(2 + j%20) .. pat2
    for i in data:gmatch(pat) do count = count + 1 end


The compile time is negligible. Results on my machine, default lua build:

rici@rici-desktop:~/src/lua-5.1.1/src$ time lua test.lua int

real    0m2.804s
user    0m2.780s
sys     0m0.012s

rici@rici-desktop:~/src/lua-5.1.1/src$ time lua test.lua str

real    0m5.024s
user    0m5.000s
sys     0m0.020s

So the string case takes less than twice as long as the int case.

From my experience with, for example, utf-8 iterators which return
either utf-8 single character strings or the integer code, that seems
about right.

Perhaps Taco was doing something overly complex to pass strings into
Lua, I don't know. I'd be happy to review the code, though.