Re: Flex speed, (was Re: Recursive Descent Parsers and YACC) (Vern Paxson)
Wed, 21 Nov 90 22:47:40 GMT

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Flex speed, (was Re: Recursive Descent Parsers and YACC) markz@ssc.UUCP (1990-11-17)
Re: Flex speed, (was Re: Recursive Descent Parsers and YACC) (1990-11-21)
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Vern Paxson)
Keywords: flex, lex, performance
Organization: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley
References: <F7p?> <539@ssc.UUCP>
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 90 22:47:40 GMT

In article <539@ssc.UUCP> markz@ssc.UUCP (Mark Zenier) writes:
> What kind of speedup can be gained by using flex instead of lex?

Here are some old timings (made in April, 1988). They compare various
flex compression options with AT&T lex. These aren't quite guaranteed-
not-to-exceed numbers (flex now takes advantage of rule sets that don't
require backtracking to squeeze out a few more cycles) but fairly close.
The scanner being timed tokenizes C, including recognizing keywords (which
maximizes flex's advantages).

> How much does the include file / new buffer stuff in flex 2.3 cost
> (in terms of speed)?

Virtually nothing. The buffer structures are only consulted when the
end of the buffer is reached (and sometimes when doing an input() or an
unput()). Since the default buffer size is 16K bytes, the overhead is


flex vs. lex timings for a C tokenizer which includes keywords:

Generation times:

lex 83.0 secs
flex 3.9 # fully compressed scanner
flex -cfe 7.1 # uncompressed table, equivalence classes
flex -cf 15.0 # uncompressed table, no equivalence classes

Scanner object file sizes:

lex 41.0K bytes
flex 9.4K
flex -cfe 49.6K
flex -cf 126.5K

Running times on a 28,088 line input (685K characters):

lex 29.8 secs
flex 19.3
flex -cfe 9.0
flex -cf 7.8

The timings were made on a Sun 3/60. All times are user + system CPU time,
and no hashing of identifiers was done.


        For about the same sized scanner, you get a factor of 3 in performance.
        For a 30% faster scanner, you get a scanner 1/4th the size, and it's
generated in 1/20th the time.
        For a scanner that's 3 times larger, you get a factor of 3.8 in


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