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Optimization (computer science)

Optimization (computer science)

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In computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, program optimization or software optimization is the process of modifying a software system to make some aspect of it work more efficiently
Algorithmic efficiency
In computer science, efficiency is used to describe properties of an algorithm relating to how much of various types of resources it consumes. Algorithmic efficiency can be thought of as analogous to engineering productivity for a repeating or continuous process, where the goal is to reduce...

 or use fewer resources. In general, a computer program
Computer program
A computer program is a sequence of instructions written to perform a specified task with a computer. A computer requires programs to function, typically executing the program's instructions in a central processor. The program has an executable form that the computer can use directly to execute...

 may be optimized so that it executes more rapidly, or is capable of operating with less memory storage or other resources, or draw less power.

General


Although the word "optimization" shares the same root as "optimal", it is rare for the process of optimization to produce a truly optimal system. The optimized system will typically only be optimal in one application or for one audience. One might reduce the amount of time that a program takes to perform some task at the price of making it consume more memory. In an application where memory space is at a premium, one might deliberately choose a slower algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

 in order to use less memory. Often there is no "one size fits all" design which works well in all cases, so engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

s make trade-off
Trade-off
A trade-off is a situation that involves losing one quality or aspect of something in return for gaining another quality or aspect...

s to optimize the attributes of greatest interest. Additionally, the effort required to make a piece of software completely optimal — incapable of any further improvement — is almost always more than is reasonable for the benefits that would be accrued; so the process of optimization may be halted before a completely optimal solution has been reached. Fortunately, it is often the case that the greatest improvements come early in the process.

"Levels" of optimization


Optimization can occur at a number of "levels":
  • Design level

At the highest level, the design may be optimized to make best use of the available resources. The implementation of this design will benefit from a good choice of efficient algorithms
Algorithmic efficiency
In computer science, efficiency is used to describe properties of an algorithm relating to how much of various types of resources it consumes. Algorithmic efficiency can be thought of as analogous to engineering productivity for a repeating or continuous process, where the goal is to reduce...

 and the implementation of these algorithms will benefit from writing good quality code. The architectural design of a system overwhelmingly affects its performance. The choice of algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

 affects efficiency more than any other item of the design and, since the choice of algorithm usually is the first thing that must be decided, arguments against early or "premature optimization" may be hard to justify.

In some cases, however, optimization relies on using more elaborate algorithms, making use of "special cases" and special "tricks" and performing complex trade-offs. A "fully optimized" program might be more difficult to comprehend and hence may contain more faults
Software bug
A software bug is the common term used to describe an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that produces an incorrect or unexpected result, or causes it to behave in unintended ways. Most bugs arise from mistakes and errors made by people in either a program's...

 than unoptimized versions.
  • Source code level

Avoiding poor quality coding can also improve performance, by avoiding obvious "slowdowns". After that, however, some optimizations are possible that actually decrease maintainability. Some, but not all, optimizations can nowadays be performed by optimizing compilers.
  • Compile level

Use of an optimizing compiler tends to ensure that the executable program is optimized at least as much as the compiler can predict.
  • Assembly level

At the lowest level, writing code using an assembly language
Assembly language
An assembly language is a low-level programming language for computers, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and other programmable devices. It implements a symbolic representation of the machine codes and other constants needed to program a given CPU architecture...

, designed for a particular hardware
Hardware
Hardware is a general term for equipment such as keys, locks, hinges, latches, handles, wire, chains, plumbing supplies, tools, utensils, cutlery and machine parts. Household hardware is typically sold in hardware stores....

 platform can produce the most efficient and compact code if the programmer takes advantage of the full repertoire of machine instructions. Many operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

s used on embedded systems have been traditionally written in assembler code for this reason. Programs (other than very small programs) are seldom written from start to finish in assembly due to the time and cost involved. Most are compiled down from a high level language to assembly and hand optimized from there. When efficiency and size are less important large parts may be written in a high-level language.

With more modern optimizing compilers and the greater complexity of recent CPUs, it is more difficult to write code that is optimized better than the compiler itself generates, and few projects need resort to this "ultimate" optimization step.

However, a large amount of code written today is still compiled with the intent to run on the greatest percentage of machines possible. As a consequence, programmers and compilers don't always take advantage of the more efficient instructions provided by newer CPUs or quirks of older models. Additionally, assembly code tuned for a particular processor without using such instructions might still be suboptimal on a different processor, expecting a different tuning of the code.
  • Run time

Just-in-time
Just-in-time compilation
In computing, just-in-time compilation , also known as dynamic translation, is a method to improve the runtime performance of computer programs. Historically, computer programs had two modes of runtime operation, either interpreted or static compilation...

 compilers and assembler programmers may be able to perform run time optimization exceeding the capability of static compilers by dynamically adjusting parameters according to the actual input or other factors.

Platform dependent and independent optimizations


Code optimization can be also broadly categorized as platform-dependent and platform-independent techniques. While the latter ones are effective on most or all platforms, platform-dependent techniques use specific properties of one platform, or rely on parameters depending on the single platform or even on the single processor. Writing or producing different versions of the same code for different processors might therefore be needed. For instance, in the case of compile-level optimization, platform-independent techniques are generic techniques (such as loop unrolling, reduction in function calls, memory efficient routines, reduction in conditions, etc.), that impact most CPU architectures in a similar way. Generally, these serve to reduce the total instruction path length
Instruction path length
In computer performance, the instruction path length is the number of machine code instructions required to execute a section of a computer program. The total path length for the entire program could be deemed a measure of the algorithm's performance on a particular computer hardware...

 required to complete the program and/or reduce total memory usage during the process. On the other hand, platform-dependent techniques involve instruction scheduling, instruction-level parallelism, data-level parallelism, cache optimization techniques (i.e., parameters that differ among various platforms) and the optimal instruction scheduling might be different even on different processors of the same architecture.

Different algorithms


Computational tasks can be performed in several different ways with varying efficiency. For example, consider the following C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 code snippet whose intention is to obtain the sum of all integers from 1 to N:


int i, sum = 0;
for (i = 1; i <= N; ++i) {
sum += i;
}
printf("sum: %d\n", sum);


This code can (assuming no arithmetic overflow
Arithmetic overflow
The term arithmetic overflow or simply overflow has the following meanings.# In a computer, the condition that occurs when a calculation produces a result that is greater in magnitude than that which a given register or storage location can store or represent.# In a computer, the amount by which a...

) be rewritten using a mathematical formula like:


int sum = N * (1 + N) / 2;
printf("sum: %d\n", sum);


The optimization, sometimes performed automatically by an optimizing compiler, is to select a method (algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

) that is more computationally efficient, while retaining the same functionality. See algorithmic efficiency
Algorithmic efficiency
In computer science, efficiency is used to describe properties of an algorithm relating to how much of various types of resources it consumes. Algorithmic efficiency can be thought of as analogous to engineering productivity for a repeating or continuous process, where the goal is to reduce...

 for a discussion of some of these techniques. However, a significant improvement in performance can often be achieved by removing extraneous functionality.

Optimization is not always an obvious or intuitive process. In the example above, the "optimized" version might actually be slower than the original version if N were sufficiently small and the particular hardware happens to be much faster at performing addition and looping operations than multiplication and division.


Optimization will generally focus on improving just one or two aspects of performance: execution time, memory usage, disk space, bandwidth, power consumption or some other resource. This will usually require a trade-off — where one factor is optimized at the expense of others. For example, increasing the size of cache
Cache
In computer engineering, a cache is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere...

 improves runtime performance, but also increases the memory consumption. Other common trade-offs include code clarity and conciseness.

There are instances where the programmer performing the optimization must decide to make the software better for some operations but at the cost of making other operations less efficient. These trade-offs may sometimes be of a non-technical nature — such as when a competitor has published a benchmark
Benchmark (computing)
In computing, a benchmark is the act of running a computer program, a set of programs, or other operations, in order to assess the relative performance of an object, normally by running a number of standard tests and trials against it...

 result that must be beaten in order to improve commercial success but comes perhaps with the burden of making normal usage of the software less efficient. Such changes are sometimes jokingly referred to as pessimizations.

In some cases, a snippet of code can become so optimized as to be obfuscated. This can lead to difficulty in maintaining the code.

Bottlenecks


Optimization may include finding a bottleneck, a critical part of the code that is the primary consumer of the needed resource — sometimes known as a hot spot
Hot spot (computer science)
A hot spot in computer science is most usually defined as a region of a computer program where a high proportion of executed instructions occur or where most time is spent during the program's execution .If a program is stopped randomly, the program counter...

. Often, the Pareto principle
Pareto principle
The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.Business-management consultant Joseph M...

 is applied. i.e., 20% of the code is responsible for 80% of the results.

In computer science, the Pareto principle
Pareto principle
The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.Business-management consultant Joseph M...

 can be applied to resource optimization by observing that 80% of the resources are typically used by 20% of the operations. In software engineering, it is often a better approximation that 90% of the execution time of a computer program is spent executing 10% of the code (known as the 90/10 law in this context).

More complex algorithms and data structures perform well with many items, while simple algorithms are more suitable for small amounts of data — the setup, initialization time, and constant factors of the more complex algorithm can outweigh the benefit.

In some cases, adding more memory can help to make a program run faster. For example, a filtering program will commonly read each line and filter and output that line immediately. This only uses enough memory for one line, but performance is typically poor. Performance can be greatly improved by reading the entire file then writing the filtered result, though this uses much more memory. Caching the result is similarly effective, though also requiring larger memory use.

When to optimize



Optimization can reduce readability
Readability
Readability is the ease in which text can be read and understood. Various factors to measure readability have been used, such as "speed of perception," "perceptibility at a distance," "perceptibility in peripheral vision," "visibility," "the reflex blink technique," "rate of work" , "eye...

 and add code that is used only to improve the performance
Computer performance
Computer performance is characterized by the amount of useful work accomplished by a computer system compared to the time and resources used.Depending on the context, good computer performance may involve one or more of the following:...

. This may complicate programs or systems, making them harder to maintain and debug. As a result, optimization or performance tuning is often performed at the end of the development stage
Development stage
A software release life cycle refers to the phases of development and maturity for a piece of computer software—ranging from its initial development, to its eventual release, and updated versions of the released version to help improve software or fix bugs still present in the software.- Pre-alpha...

.

Donald Knuth
Donald Knuth
Donald Ervin Knuth is a computer scientist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.He is the author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming. Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms...

 made the following two statements on optimization:

"We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil"

"In established engineering disciplines a 12 % improvement, easily obtained, is never considered marginal and I believe the same viewpoint should prevail in software engineering"


"Premature optimization" is a phrase used to describe a situation where a programmer lets performance considerations affect the design of a piece of code. This can result in a design that is not as clean as it could have been or code that is incorrect, because the code is complicated by the optimization and the programmer is distracted by optimizing.

When deciding whether to optimize a specific part of the program, Amdahl's Law
Amdahl's law
Amdahl's law, also known as Amdahl's argument, is named after computer architect Gene Amdahl, and is used to find the maximum expected improvement to an overall system when only part of the system is improved...

 should always be considered: the impact on the overall program depends very much on how much time is actually spent in that specific part, which is not always clear from looking at the code without a performance analysis
Performance analysis
In software engineering, profiling is a form of dynamic program analysis that measures, for example, the usage of memory, the usage of particular instructions, or frequency and duration of function calls...

.

A better approach is therefore to design first, code from the design and then profile
Performance analysis
In software engineering, profiling is a form of dynamic program analysis that measures, for example, the usage of memory, the usage of particular instructions, or frequency and duration of function calls...

/benchmark
Benchmark (computing)
In computing, a benchmark is the act of running a computer program, a set of programs, or other operations, in order to assess the relative performance of an object, normally by running a number of standard tests and trials against it...

 the resulting code to see which parts should be optimized. A simple and elegant design is often easier to optimize at this stage, and profiling may reveal unexpected performance problems that would not have been addressed by premature optimization.

In practice, it is often necessary to keep performance goals in mind when first designing software, but the programmer balances the goals of design and optimization.

Macros


Optimization during code development using macros takes on different forms in different languages.

In some procedural languages, such as C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 and C++
C++
C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell...

, macros are implemented using token substitution. Nowadays, inline functions can be used as a type safe alternative in many cases. In both cases, the inlined function body can then undergo further compile-time optimizations by the compiler, including constant folding
Constant folding
Constant folding and constant propagation are related compiler optimizations used by many modern compilers. An advanced form of constant propagation known as sparse conditional constant propagation can more accurately propagate constants and simultaneously remove dead code.- Constant folding...

, which may move some computations to compile time.

In many functional programming
Functional programming
In computer science, functional programming is a programming paradigm that treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids state and mutable data. It emphasizes the application of functions, in contrast to the imperative programming style, which emphasizes changes in state...

 languages macros are implemented using parse-time substitution of parse trees/abstract syntax trees, which it is claimed makes them safer to use. Since in many cases interpretation is used, that is one way to ensure that such computations are only performed at parse-time, and sometimes the only way.

Lisp
Lisp programming language
Lisp is a family of computer programming languages with a long history and a distinctive, fully parenthesized syntax. Originally specified in 1958, Lisp is the second-oldest high-level programming language in widespread use today; only Fortran is older...

 originated this style of macro, and such macros are often called "Lisp-like macros." A similar effect can be achieved by using template metaprogramming
Template metaprogramming
Template metaprogramming is a metaprogramming technique in which templates are used by a compiler to generate temporary source code, which is merged by the compiler with the rest of the source code and then compiled. The output of these templates include compile-time constants, data structures, and...

 in C++
C++
C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell...

.

In both cases, work is moved to compile-time. The difference between C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 macros on one side, and Lisp-like macros and C++
C++
C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell...

 template metaprogramming
Template metaprogramming
Template metaprogramming is a metaprogramming technique in which templates are used by a compiler to generate temporary source code, which is merged by the compiler with the rest of the source code and then compiled. The output of these templates include compile-time constants, data structures, and...

 on the other side, is that the latter tools allow performing arbitrary computations at compile-time/parse-time, while expansion of C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 macros does not perform any computation, and relies on the optimizer ability to perform it. Additionally, C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 macros do not directly support recursion or iteration, so are not Turing complete.

As with any optimization, however, it is often difficult to predict where such tools will have the most impact before a project is complete.

Automated and manual optimization



See also :Category:Compiler optimizations

Optimization can be automated by compilers or performed by programmers. Gains are usually limited for local optimization, and larger for global optimizations. Usually, the most powerful optimization is to find a superior algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

.

Optimizing a whole system is usually undertaken by programmers because it is too complex for automated optimizers. In this situation, programmers or system administrators explicitly change code so that the overall system performs better. Although it can produce better efficiency, it is far more expensive than automated optimizations.

Use a profiler (or performance analyzer
Performance analysis
In software engineering, profiling is a form of dynamic program analysis that measures, for example, the usage of memory, the usage of particular instructions, or frequency and duration of function calls...

) to find the sections of the program that are taking the most resources — the bottleneck. Programmers sometimes believe they have a clear idea of where the bottleneck is, but intuition is frequently wrong. Optimizing an unimportant piece of code will typically do little to help the overall performance.

When the bottleneck is localized, optimization usually starts with a rethinking of the algorithm used in the program. More often than not, a particular algorithm can be specifically tailored to a particular problem, yielding better performance than a generic algorithm. For example, the task of sorting a huge list of items is usually done with a quicksort routine, which is one of the most efficient generic algorithms. But if some characteristic of the items is exploitable (for example, they are already arranged in some particular order), a different method can be used, or even a custom-made sort routine.

After the programmer is reasonably sure that the best algorithm is selected, code optimization can start. Loops can be unrolled (for lower loop overhead, although this can often lead to lower speed if it overloads the CPU cache
CPU cache
A CPU cache is a cache used by the central processing unit of a computer to reduce the average time to access memory. The cache is a smaller, faster memory which stores copies of the data from the most frequently used main memory locations...

), data types as small as possible can be used, integer arithmetic can be used instead of floating-point, and so on. (See algorithmic efficiency
Algorithmic efficiency
In computer science, efficiency is used to describe properties of an algorithm relating to how much of various types of resources it consumes. Algorithmic efficiency can be thought of as analogous to engineering productivity for a repeating or continuous process, where the goal is to reduce...

 article for these and other techniques).

Performance bottlenecks can be due to language limitations rather than algorithms or data structures used in the program. Sometimes, a critical part of the program can be re-written in a different programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....

 that gives more direct access to the underlying machine. For example, it is common for very high-level
High-level programming language
A high-level programming language is a programming language with strong abstraction from the details of the computer. In comparison to low-level programming languages, it may use natural language elements, be easier to use, or be from the specification of the program, making the process of...

 languages like Python
Python (programming language)
Python is a general-purpose, high-level programming language whose design philosophy emphasizes code readability. Python claims to "[combine] remarkable power with very clear syntax", and its standard library is large and comprehensive...

 to have modules written in C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 for greater speed. Programs already written in C can have modules written in assembly
Assembly language
An assembly language is a low-level programming language for computers, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and other programmable devices. It implements a symbolic representation of the machine codes and other constants needed to program a given CPU architecture...

. Programs written in D can use the inline assembler
Inline assembler
In computer programming, the inline assembler is a feature of some compilers that allows very low level code written in assembly to be embedded in a high level language like C or Ada...

.

Rewriting sections "pays off" in these circumstances because of a general "rule of thumb
Rule of thumb
A rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It is an easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination...

" known as the 90/10 law, which states that 90% of the time is spent in 10% of the code, and only 10% of the time in the remaining 90% of the code. So, putting intellectual effort into optimizing just a small part of the program can have a huge effect on the overall speed — if the correct part(s) can be located.

Manual optimization sometimes has the side effect of undermining readability. Thus code optimizations should be carefully documented (preferably using in-line comments), and their effect on future development evaluated.

The program that performs an automated optimization is called an optimizer. Most optimizers are embedded in compilers and operate during compilation. Optimizers can often tailor the generated code to specific processors.

Today, automated optimizations are almost exclusively limited to compiler optimization
Compiler optimization
Compiler optimization is the process of tuning the output of a compiler to minimize or maximize some attributes of an executable computer program. The most common requirement is to minimize the time taken to execute a program; a less common one is to minimize the amount of memory occupied...

. However, because compiler optimizations are usually limited to a fixed set of rather general optimizations, there is considerable demand for optimizers which can accept descriptions of problem and language-specific optimizations, allowing an engineer to specify custom optimizations. Tools that accept descriptions of optimizations are called program transformation
Program transformation
A program transformation is any operation that takes a computer program and generates another program. In many cases the transformed program is required to be semantically equivalent to the original, relative to a particular formal semantics and in fewer cases the transformations result in programs...

 systems and are beginning to be applied to real software systems such as C++.

Some high-level languages (Eiffel
Eiffel (programming language)
Eiffel is an ISO-standardized, object-oriented programming language designed by Bertrand Meyer and Eiffel Software. The design of the language is closely connected with the Eiffel programming method...

, Esterel
Esterel
Esterel is a synchronous programming language for the development of complex reactive systems. The imperative programming style of Esterel allows the simple expression of parallelism and preemption...

) optimize their programs by using an intermediate language
Intermediate language
In computer science, an intermediate language is the language of an abstract machine designed to aid in the analysis of computer programs. The term comes from their use in compilers, where a compiler first translates the source code of a program into a form more suitable for code-improving...

.

Grid computing
Grid computing
Grid computing is a term referring to the combination of computer resources from multiple administrative domains to reach a common goal. The grid can be thought of as a distributed system with non-interactive workloads that involve a large number of files...

 or distributed computing
Distributed computing
Distributed computing is a field of computer science that studies distributed systems. A distributed system consists of multiple autonomous computers that communicate through a computer network. The computers interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal...

 aims to optimize the whole system, by moving tasks from computers with high usage to computers with idle time.

Time taken for optimization


Sometimes, the time taken to undertake optimization in itself may be an issue.

Optimizing existing code usually does not add new features, and worse, it might add new bugs
Software bug
A software bug is the common term used to describe an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that produces an incorrect or unexpected result, or causes it to behave in unintended ways. Most bugs arise from mistakes and errors made by people in either a program's...

 in previously working code (as any change might). Because manually optimized code might sometimes have less "readability" than unoptimized code, optimization might impact maintainability of it as well. Optimization comes at a price and it is important to be sure that the investment is worthwhile.

An automatic optimizer (or optimizing compiler, a program that performs code optimization) may itself have to be optimized, either to further improve the efficiency of its target programs or else speed up its own operation. A compilation performed with optimization "turned on" usually takes longer, although this is usually only a problem when programs are quite large.

In particular, for just-in-time compilers the performance of the run time compile component, executing together with its target code, is the key to improving overall execution speed.

Quotes

  • "The order in which the operations shall be performed in every particular case is a very interesting and curious question, on which our space does not permit us fully to enter. In almost every computation a great variety of arrangements for the succession of the processes is possible, and various considerations must influence the selection amongst them for the purposes of a Calculating Engine. One essential object is to choose that arrangement which shall tend to reduce to a minimum the time necessary for completing the calculation." — Ada Byron's notes on the analytical engine 1842.
  • "More computing sins are committed in the name of efficiency (without necessarily achieving it) than for any other single reason — including blind stupidity." — W.A. Wulf
  • "We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil. Yet we should not pass up our opportunities in that critical 3%. A good programmer will not be lulled into complacency by such reasoning, he will be wise to look carefully at the critical code; but only after that code has been identified" — Donald Knuth
    Donald Knuth
    Donald Ervin Knuth is a computer scientist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.He is the author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming. Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms...

  • "Bottlenecks occur in surprising places, so don't try to second guess and put in a speed hack until you have proven that's where the bottleneck is." — Rob Pike
  • "The First Rule of Program Optimization: Don't do it. The Second Rule of Program Optimization (for experts only!): Don't do it yet." — Michael A. Jackson
    Michael A. Jackson
    Michael Anthony Jackson is a British computer scientist, and independent computing consultant in London, England. He is also part-time researcher at AT&T Research, Florham Park, NJ, U.S., and visiting research professor at the Open University in the UK.- Biography :Jackson was educated at Harrow...


External links