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Faster alternative to containers.Map

Asked by Paolo Binetti on 31 Aug 2017
Latest activity Commented on by Paolo Binetti on 1 Sep 2017
Profiling a script (attached, along with a sample input data file), I have found that looking up a Map generated with containers.Map is the bottleneck. Namely the table is:
s = containers.Map(nodes, num2cell([1:numel(nodes)]'));
and the script looks it up within a while-loop a few thousands times:
idx = s(temp1); % same as above if s is a Map object
I have tried replacing the Map object with a data structure, but it did not seem to work, due to field name limitations. Are there other faster methods?


on 1 Sep 2017
This might help:
I have no idea about relative speed as I haven't run any tests comparing the different options, but it does at least discuss alternatives.
Thank you. I have just tried it. Referring to my original code (attached to the question), you can create the hash table like this:
t = java.util.Hashtable;
for k = 1:numel(nodes)
t.put(nodes{k}, k);
This takes much longer than creating a Map object, but maybe it can be sped up by vectorizing, if possible.
Then you can simply look the table up as follows:
idx = t.get(temp1);
Unfortunately this takes much longer than looking up the equivalent Matlab object.
Perhaps it would be faster using Python dictionaries in Matlab, but still have not figured out how.

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1 Answer

Answer by Walter Roberson
on 1 Sep 2017

fid = fopen('dataset_203_2.txt', 'rt');
approx_num_nodes = 3000;
used_nodes = 0;
known_nodes = nan(1, approx_num_nodes);
node_connections = cell(1, approx_num_nodes);
while true
thisline = fgetl(fid);
if ~ischar(thisline); break; end %end of file
toks = regexp(thisline, '^(?<src>\d+)\s*->\s*(?<dst>(\d+,\s*)*\d+)', 'names');
src = str2double(toks.src);
dst = str2double( regexp(toks.dst, ',\s*', 'split') );
mentioned = [src, dst];
[known, idx] = ismember(mentioned, known_nodes);
unknown = ~known;
num_new_nodes = nnz(unknown);
newnodes = used_nodes+(1:num_new_nodes);
known_nodes(newnodes) = mentioned(unknown);
used_nodes = used_nodes + num_new_nodes;
idx(unknown) = newnodes;
node_connections{idx(1)} = idx(2:end);
known_nodes = known_nodes(1:used_nodes);
At the end of this code, known_nodes will be a numeric list of node numbers from the file, in the order encountered, and node_connections will be a cell array of numeric vectors listing all of the connections. The connections listed will be in terms of the indices into the known_nodes list, not in terms of the original node numbers.
Another way of phrasing this is that the known_nodes is something would something you would use for the node labels, but the information in the node_connections list uses internal node numbers. It would be each to reconfigure this for text labels instead of numeric labels.


Thank you Walter for your answer. I would need to dig into your code in order to exactly understand what it does and use it, but it looks like it is a pre-processing to have numeric labels ready to build a struct, right? However, unless I miss something, this code takes 5x more than my original one, so the advantage of using is not yet clear to me. Apparently str2double, ismember, and regexp seem to be the the cause of slow speed.
In fact, I was hoping to find a more efficient replacement to Maps objects, as they seem to exist in Java or Python. People implementing the same algorithm as mine with Python and dictionaries (or hash tables?) seem to get much better performance.
And yes, you are right, I do prefer to stick with text, because for other applications I use text. Those cases encounter a similar struct label limitation, because my labels have order of 100 chars, which is too much.
I did not do any timing tests on this. On my system it executed quickly on the test file.
Taking out the str2double() and fixing up the indexing to suit should speed it a little.
This code does have the disadvantage of calling ismember over and over again. I have it ismember against the complete nan-padded list, so it should take pretty much constant time per pass. In theory comparing against only the part of the array that has been used would make it faster, but in practice the extracting of the used subset would probably negate the gains. You would not want to build upwards with the list getting longer and longer, as then you end up doing reallocations every pass.
Thank you. I also had tried a method based on repeated calls of ismember, but it was very slow. I was wondering if it could be improved by using undocumented ismembc2, but I am not sure it's a good approach.

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