SebastianK SebastianK - 3 months ago 14
C++ Question

How big is the performance gap between std::sort and std::stable_sort in practice?

Both should run in O(n log n), but in general sort is faster than stable_sort. How big is the performance gap in practice? Do you have some experience about that?

I want to sort a very large number of structs that have a size of about 20 bytes. The stability of the result would be nice in my case, but it is not a must. At the moment the underlying container is a plain array, perhaps it could be changed to a std::deque later on.

Answer

There are good answers that compared the algorithms theoretically. I benchmarked std::sort and std::stable_sort with google/benchmark for curiosity's sake.

It is useful to point out ahead of time that;

  • Benchmark machine has 1 X 2500 MHz CPU and 1 GB RAM
  • Benchmark OS Arch Linux 2015.08 x86-64
  • Benchmark compiled with g++ 5.3.0 and clang++ 3.7.0 (-std=c++11, -O3 and -pthread)
  • BM_Base* benchmark tries to measure the time populating std::vector<>. That time should be subtracted from the sorting results for better comparison.

First benchmark sorts std::vector<int> with 512k size.

[ g++ ]# benchmark_sorts --benchmark_repetitions=10
Run on (1 X 2500 MHz CPU )
2016-01-08 01:37:43
Benchmark                         Time(ns)    CPU(ns) Iterations
----------------------------------------------------------------
...
BM_BaseInt/512k_mean              24730499   24726189         28
BM_BaseInt/512k_stddev              293107     310668          0
...
BM_SortInt/512k_mean              70967679   70799990         10
BM_SortInt/512k_stddev             1300811    1301295          0
...
BM_StableSortInt/512k_mean        73487904   73481467          9
BM_StableSortInt/512k_stddev        979966     925172          0
[ clang++ ]# benchmark_sorts --benchmark_repetitions=10
Run on (1 X 2500 MHz CPU )
2016-01-08 01:39:07
Benchmark                         Time(ns)    CPU(ns) Iterations
----------------------------------------------------------------
...
BM_BaseInt/512k_mean              26198558   26197526         27
BM_BaseInt/512k_stddev              320971     348314          0
...
BM_SortInt/512k_mean              70648019   70666660         10
BM_SortInt/512k_stddev             2030727    2033062          0
...
BM_StableSortInt/512k_mean        82004375   81999989          9
BM_StableSortInt/512k_stddev        197309     181453          0

Second benchmark sorts std::vector<S> with 512k size (sizeof(Struct S) = 20).

[ g++ ]# benchmark_sorts --benchmark_repetitions=10
Run on (1 X 2500 MHz CPU )
2016-01-08 01:49:32
Benchmark                         Time(ns)    CPU(ns) Iterations
----------------------------------------------------------------
...
BM_BaseStruct/512k_mean           26485063   26410254         26
BM_BaseStruct/512k_stddev           270355     128200          0
...
BM_SortStruct/512k_mean           81844178   81833325          8
BM_SortStruct/512k_stddev           240868     204088          0
...
BM_StableSortStruct/512k_mean    106945879  106857114          7
BM_StableSortStruct/512k_stddev   10446119   10341548          0
[ clang++ ]# benchmark_sorts --benchmark_repetitions=10
Run on (1 X 2500 MHz CPU )
2016-01-08 01:53:01
Benchmark                         Time(ns)    CPU(ns) Iterations
----------------------------------------------------------------
...
BM_BaseStruct/512k_mean           27327329   27280000         25
BM_BaseStruct/512k_stddev           488318     333059          0 
...
BM_SortStruct/512k_mean           78611207   78407400          9
BM_SortStruct/512k_stddev           690207     372230          0 
...
BM_StableSortStruct/512k_mean    109477231  109333325          8
BM_StableSortStruct/512k_stddev   11697084   11506626          0

Anyone who likes to run the benchmark, here is the code,

#include <vector>
#include <random>
#include <algorithm>

#include "benchmark/benchmark_api.h"

#define SIZE 1024 << 9

static void BM_BaseInt(benchmark::State &state) {
  std::random_device rd;
  std::mt19937 mt(rd());
  std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dist;

  while (state.KeepRunning()) {
    std::vector<int> v;
    v.reserve(state.range_x());
    for (int i = 0; i < state.range_x(); i++) {
      v.push_back(dist(mt));
    }
  }
}
BENCHMARK(BM_BaseInt)->Arg(SIZE);

static void BM_SortInt(benchmark::State &state) {
  std::random_device rd;
  std::mt19937 mt(rd());
  std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dist;

  while (state.KeepRunning()) {
    std::vector<int> v;
    v.reserve(state.range_x());
    for (int i = 0; i < state.range_x(); i++) {
      v.push_back(dist(mt));
    }

    std::sort(v.begin(), v.end());
  }
}
BENCHMARK(BM_SortInt)->Arg(SIZE);

static void BM_StableSortInt(benchmark::State &state) {
  std::random_device rd;
  std::mt19937 mt(rd());
  std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dist;

  while (state.KeepRunning()) {
    std::vector<int> v;
    v.reserve(state.range_x());
    for (int i = 0; i < state.range_x(); i++) {
      v.push_back(dist(mt));
    }

    std::stable_sort(v.begin(), v.end());
  }
}
BENCHMARK(BM_StableSortInt)->Arg(SIZE);


struct S {
  int key;
  int arr[4];
};

static void BM_BaseStruct(benchmark::State &state) {
  std::random_device rd;
  std::mt19937 mt(rd());
  std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dist;

  while (state.KeepRunning()) {
    std::vector<S> v;
    v.reserve(state.range_x());
    for (int i = 0; i < state.range_x(); i++) {
      v.push_back({dist(mt)});
    }
  }
}
BENCHMARK(BM_BaseStruct)->Arg(SIZE);

static void BM_SortStruct(benchmark::State &state) {
  std::random_device rd;
  std::mt19937 mt(rd());
  std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dist;

  while (state.KeepRunning()) {
    std::vector<S> v;
    v.reserve(state.range_x());
    for (int i = 0; i < state.range_x(); i++) {
      v.push_back({dist(mt)});
    }

    std::sort(v.begin(), v.end(),
              [](const S &a, const S &b) { return a.key < b.key; });
  }
}
BENCHMARK(BM_SortStruct)->Arg(SIZE);

static void BM_StableSortStruct(benchmark::State &state) {
  std::random_device rd;
  std::mt19937 mt(rd());
  std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dist;

  while (state.KeepRunning()) {
    std::vector<S> v;
    v.reserve(state.range_x());
    for (int i = 0; i < state.range_x(); i++) {
      v.push_back({dist(mt)});
    }

    std::stable_sort(v.begin(), v.end(),
                     [](const S &a, const S &b) { return a.key < b.key; });
  }
}
BENCHMARK(BM_StableSortStruct)->Arg(SIZE);


BENCHMARK_MAIN();