benchstat

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Published: Feb 8, 2024 License: BSD-3-Clause Imports: 8 Imported by: 1

Documentation

Overview

Benchstat computes statistical summaries and A/B comparisons of Go benchmarks.

Usage:

benchstat [flags] inputs...

Each input file should be in the Go benchmark format (https://golang.org/design/14313-benchmark-format), such as the output of “go test -bench .”. Typically, there should be two (or more) inputs files for before and after some change (or series of changes) to be measured. Each benchmark should be run at least 10 times to gather a statistically significant sample of results. For each benchmark, benchstat computes the median and the confidence interval for the median. By default, if there are two or more inputs files, it compares each benchmark in the first file to the same benchmark in each subsequent file and reports whether there was a statistically significant difference, though it can be configured to compare on other dimensions.

Example

Suppose we collect results from running a set of benchmarks 10 times before a particular change:

go test -run='^$' -bench=. -count=10 > old.txt

And the same benchmarks 10 times after:

go test -run='^$' -bench=. -count=10 > new.txt

The file old.txt contains:

goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  690848	      1726 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  684861	      1723 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  693285	      1707 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  677692	      1707 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  692130	      1713 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  684164	      1729 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  682500	      1736 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  677509	      1707 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  687295	      1705 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  695533	      1774 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  372699	      3069 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  394740	      3075 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  391335	      3069 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  383588	      3067 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  385885	      3207 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  389970	      3064 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  393361	      3064 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  393882	      3058 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  396171	      3059 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  397812	      3062 ns/op

The file new.txt contains:

goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  714387	      1423 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  845445	      1416 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  815714	      1411 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  828824	      1413 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  834070	      1412 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  828123	      1426 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  834493	      1422 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  838406	      1424 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  836227	      1447 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=json-48         	  830835	      1425 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  394441	      3075 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  393207	      3065 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  392374	      3059 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  396037	      3065 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  393255	      3060 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  382629	      3081 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  389558	      3186 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  392668	      3135 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  392313	      3087 ns/op
BenchmarkEncode/format=gob-48          	  394274	      3062 ns/op

The order of the lines in the file does not matter, except that the output lists benchmarks in order of appearance.

If we run “benchstat old.txt new.txt”, it will summarize the benchmarks and compare the before and after results:

$ benchstat old.txt new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
                      │   old.txt   │               new.txt               │
                      │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                │
Encode/format=json-48   1.718µ ± 1%   1.423µ ± 1%  -17.20% (p=0.000 n=10)
Encode/format=gob-48    3.066µ ± 0%   3.070µ ± 2%        ~ (p=0.446 n=10)
geomean                 2.295µ        2.090µ        -8.94%

Before the comparison table, we see common file-level configuration. If there are benchmarks with different configuration (for example, from different packages), benchstat will print separate tables for each configuration.

The table then compares the two input files for each benchmark. It shows the median and 95% confidence interval summaries for each benchmark before and after the change, and an A/B comparison under "vs base". The comparison shows that Encode/format=json got 17.20% faster with a p-value of 0.000 and 10 samples from each input file. The p-value measures how likely it is that any differences were due to random chance (i.e., noise). In this case, it's extremely unlikely the difference between the medians was due to chance. For Encode/format=gob, the "~" means benchstat did not detect a statistically significant difference between the two inputs. In this case, we see a p-value of 0.446, meaning it's very likely the differences for this benchmark are simply due to random chance.

Note that "statistically significant" is not the same as "large": with enough low-noise data, even very small changes can be distinguished from noise and considered statistically significant. It is, of course, generally easier to distinguish large changes from noise.

Finally, the last row of the table shows the geometric mean of each column, giving an overall picture of how the benchmarks changed. Proportional changes in the geomean reflect proportional changes in the benchmarks. For example, given n benchmarks, if sec/op for one of them increases by a factor of 2, then the sec/op geomean will increase by a factor of ⁿ√2.

Filtering

benchstat has a very flexible system of configuring exactly which benchmarks are summarized and compared. First, all inputs are filtered according to an expression provided as the -filter flag.

Filters are built from key-value terms:

key:value     - Match if key equals value.
key:"value"   - Same, but value is a double-quoted Go string that
                may contain spaces or other special characters.
"key":value   - Keys may also be double-quoted.
key:/regexp/  - Match if key matches a regular expression.
key:(val1 OR val2 OR ...)
              - Short-hand for key:val1 OR key:val2. Values may be
                double-quoted strings or regexps.
*             - Match everything.

These terms can be combined into larger expressions as follows:

x y ...       - Match if x, y, etc. all match.
x AND y       - Same as x y.
x OR y        - Match if x or y match.
-x            - Match if x does not match.
(...)         - Subexpression.

Each key is one of the following:

.name         - The base name of a benchmark
.fullname     - The full name of a benchmark (including configuration)
.file         - The name of the input file or user-provided file label
/{name-key}   - Per-benchmark sub-name configuration key
{file-key}    - File-level configuration key
.unit         - The name of a unit for a particular metric

For example, the following matches benchmarks with "/format=json" in the sub-name keys with file-level configuration "goos" equal to "linux" and extracts the "ns/op" and "B/op" measurements:

$ benchstat -filter "/format:json goos:linux .unit:(ns/op OR B/op)" old.txt new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
                      │   old.txt   │               new.txt               │
                      │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                │
Encode/format=json-48   1.718µ ± 1%   1.423µ ± 1%  -17.20% (p=0.000 n=10)

Configuring comparisons

The way benchstat groups and compares results is configurable using a similar set of keys as used for filtering. By default, benchstat groups results into tables using all file-level configuration keys, then within each table, it groups results into rows by .fullname (the benchmark's full name) and compares across columns by .file (the name of each input file). This can be changed via the following flags:

-table KEYS   - Group results into tables by KEYS
-row KEYS     - Group results into table rows by KEYS
-col KEYS     - Compare across results with different values of KEYS

Using these flags, benchstat "projects" each result into a particular table cell. Each KEYS argument is a comma- or space-separated list of keys, each of which can optionally also specify a sort order (described below).

Each key is one of the following:

.name         - The base name of a benchmark
.fullname     - The full name of a benchmark (including configuration)
.file         - The name of the input file or user-provided file label
/{name-key}   - Per-benchmark sub-name configuration key
{file-key}    - File-level configuration key
.config       - All file-level configuration keys

Some of these keys can overlap. For example, ".config" includes the file-level key "goos", and ".fullname" includes the sub-name key "/format". When keys overlap like this, benchstat omits the more specific key from the general key. For example, if -table is the full file-level configuration ".config", and -col is the specific file key "goos", benchstat will omit "goos" from ".config".

Finally, the -ignore flag can list keys that benchstat should ignore when grouping results. Continuing the previous example, if -table is ".config" and -ignore is "goos", benchstat will omit "goos" from ".config", but also not use it for any grouping.

For precise details of the filter syntax and supported keys, see https://pkg.go.dev/golang.org/x/perf/benchproc/syntax.

Projection examples

Returning to our first example, we can now see how the default projection flags produce this output:

$ benchstat -table .config -row .fullname -col .file old.txt new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
                      │   old.txt   │               new.txt               │
                      │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                │
Encode/format=json-48   1.718µ ± 1%   1.423µ ± 1%  -17.20% (p=0.000 n=10)
Encode/format=gob-48    3.066µ ± 0%   3.070µ ± 2%        ~ (p=0.446 n=10)
geomean                 2.295µ        2.090µ        -8.94%

In this example, all benchmarks have the same file-level configuration, consisting of "goos", "goarch", and "pkg", so ".config" groups them into just one table. Within this table, results are grouped into rows by their full name, including configuration, and grouped into columns by the name of each input file.

Suppose we instead want to compare json encoding to gob encoding from new.txt.

$ benchstat -col /format new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
          │    json     │                 gob                  │
          │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                 │
Encode-48   1.423µ ± 1%   3.070µ ± 2%  +115.82% (p=0.000 n=10)

The columns are now labeled by the "/format" configuration from the benchmark name. benchstat still compares columns even though we've only provided a single input file. We also see that /format has been removed from the benchmark name to make a single row.

We can simplify the output by grouping rows by just the benchmark name, rather than the full name:

$ benchstat -col /format -row .name new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
       │    json     │                 gob                  │
       │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                 │
Encode   1.423µ ± 1%   3.070µ ± 2%  +115.82% (p=0.000 n=10)

benchstat will attempt to detect and warn if projections strip away too much information. For example, here we group together json and gob results into a single row:

$ benchstat  -row .name new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
       │    new.txt     │
       │     sec/op     │
Encode   2.253µ ± 37% ¹
¹ benchmarks vary in .fullname

Since this is probably not a meaningful comparison, benchstat warns that the benchmarks it grouped together vary in a hidden dimension. If this really were our intent, we could -ignore .fullname.

Sorting

By default, benchstat sorts each dimension according to the order in which it first observes each value of that dimension. This can be overridden in each projection using the following syntax:

{key}@{order} - specifies one of the built-in named sort orders. This can be "alpha" or "num" for alphabetic or numeric sorting. "num" understands basic use of metric and IEC prefixes like "2k" and "1Mi".

{key}@({value} {value} ...) - specifies a fixed value order for key. It also specifies a filter: if key has a value that isn't any of the specified values, the result is filtered out.

For example, we can use a fixed order to compare the improvement of json over gob rather than the other way around:

$ benchstat -col "/format@(gob json)" -row .name -ignore .file new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
       │     gob     │                json                 │
       │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                │
Encode   3.070µ ± 2%   1.423µ ± 1%  -53.66% (p=0.000 n=10)

Overriding .file

Often, you want to compare results from different files, but want to provide more meaningful (or perhaps shorter) column labels than raw file names. File name labels can be overridden by specifying an input argument of the form "label=path" instead of just "path". This provides a custom value for the .file key.

For example, the following will perform the default comparison, but label the columns O and N instead of old.txt and new.txt:

$ benchstat O=old.txt N=new.txt
goos: linux
goarch: amd64
pkg: golang.org/x/perf/cmd/benchstat/testdata
                      │      O      │                  N                  │
                      │   sec/op    │   sec/op     vs base                │
Encode/format=json-48   1.718µ ± 1%   1.423µ ± 1%  -17.20% (p=0.000 n=10)
Encode/format=gob-48    3.066µ ± 0%   3.070µ ± 2%        ~ (p=0.446 n=10)
geomean                 2.295µ        2.090µ        -8.94%

Units

benchstat normalizes the units "ns" to "sec" and "MB" to "B" to avoid creating nonsense units like "µns/op". These appear in the testing package's default metrics and are also common in custom metrics.

benchstat supports custom unit metadata (see https://golang.org/design/14313-benchmark-format). In particular, "assume" metadata is useful for controlling the statistics used by benchstat. By default, units use "assume=nothing", so benchstat uses non-parametric statistics: median for summaries, and the Mann-Whitney U-test for A/B comparisons.

Some benchmarks measure things that have no noise, such as the size of a binary produced by a compiler. These do not benefit from repeated measurements or non-parametric statistics. For these units, it's useful to set "assume=exact". This will cause benchstat to warn if there's any variation in the measured values, and to show A/B comparisons even if there's only one before and after measurement.

Tips

Reducing noise and/or increasing the number of benchmark runs will enable benchstat to discern smaller changes as "statistically significant". To reduce noise, make sure you run benchmarks on an otherwise idle machine, ideally one that isn't running on battery and isn't likely to be affected by thermal throttling. https://llvm.org/docs/Benchmarking.html has many good tips on reducing noise in benchmarks.

It's also important that noise is evenly distributed across benchmark runs. The best way to do this is to interleave before and after runs, rather than running, say, 10 iterations of the before benchmark, and then 10 iterations of the after benchmark. For Go benchmarks, you can often speed up this process by using "go test -c" to pre-compile the benchmark binary.

Pick a number of benchmark runs (at least 10, ideally 20) and stick to it. If benchstat reports no statistically significant change, avoid simply rerunning your benchmarks until it reports a significant change. This is known as "multiple testing" and is a common statistical error. By default, benchstat uses an ɑ threshold of 0.05, which means it is *expected* to show a difference 5% of the time even if there is no difference. Hence, if you rerun benchmarks looking for a change, benchstat will probably eventually say there is a change, even if there isn't, which creates a statistical bias.

As an extension of this, if you compare a large number of benchmarks, you should expect that about 5% of them will report a statistically significant change even if there is no difference between the before and after.

Directories

Path Synopsis
internal
benchtab
Package benchtab presents benchmark results as comparison tables.
Package benchtab presents benchmark results as comparison tables.

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