Yenya's World

Tue, 19 Feb 2008

The Cost of Flexibility (and Cleanliness)

In the previously mentioned distributed computing project, I am trying to do something like the following code:

sub parse_file {
    my $fh = shift;
    while (my $parsed_data
            = nontrivial_get_data_from($fh)) {

The nontrivial_get_data_from($fh) code is indeed non-trivial (in the terms of lines of code, not necessarily in the terms of CPU time), while handle($parsed_data) is pretty straightforward. Now the problem is that I want to use this non-trivial code with different handle($parsed_data) routines (for example, printing out the $parsed_data for testing purposes). A natural way would be to implement a pure virtual class in which the $self->handle($parsed_data) routine would be called inside the parse_file() method, and which the programmer would subclass, providing different $self->handle() implementations.

I have found that using a subclassed method $self->handle() instead of putting the handling code directly into parse_file() costs about 14 % of time (the dirty inlined code took 35 seconds on the test data set, while the nice and clean subclassed one took 40 seconds).

So, my dear Perl gurus, how would you implement this? I need to call different code in the innermost loop of the program, and just factoring it out into the subroutine (or a virtual method) costs me about 14 % of time. Maybe some clever eval { } and precompiling different instances of parse_file()? In fact I don't really need the flexibility of objects: I need only a single implementation of handle($parsed_data) in a single program run, but I want to be able to use a different handle() code with the same parse_file() code base called from different programs.

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