# Sequence optimizations: how my code got into kotlin | by Max Sidorov | Nov, 2023

#### By

Nov 2, 2023

I noticed that the implementation of the distinct function is algorithmically very similar to the filter function. However, the distinct function has a significant performance loss compared to regular collections (-15%), while the filter function outperforms collections by about 3%-5%.

## Measurement results — filter

This seemed strange to me and I decided to study the code of both functions to understand why such losses occur in the distinct function.

The decorator for distinct is quite simple. Internally, it creates a HashSet observed and accumulates all the returned elements in it. Thus, if the element is already observed, then this means that it has already been returned and will be skipped further.

`private class DistinctIterator<T, K>(private val source: Iterator<T>, private val keySelector: (T) -> K) : AbstractIterator<T>() private val observed = HashSet<K>()override fun computeNext() while (source.hasNext()) val next = source.next()val key = keySelector(next)if (observed.add(key)) setNext(next)returndone()`

If we look at the implementation of the collections code, we will see almost identical code in the collections. Essentially, it does the same thing. Creates a HashSet and accumulates the returned elements in it.

`public inline fun <T, K> Iterable<T>.distinctBy(selector: (T) -> K): List<T> val set = HashSet<K>()val list = ArrayList<T>()for (e in this) val key = selector(e)if (set.add(key))list.add(e)return list`

Thus, it is clear that if the implementation of sequences and collections as a whole is the same, then the losses are somewhere else. If we look at the class declaration in sequences, we will see some kind of abstract class AbstractIterator.

`private class DistinctIterator<T, K>(private val source: Iterator<T>, private val keySelector: (T) -> K) : AbstractIterator<T>() // ....`

Here is the implementation of all the basic methods of the distinct decorator. And if we follow the logic, then all our losses should be in this abstract class.

Let’s see how this abstract class works. This class stores the current state in the state variable, whether the next element of the iterator was calculated or not. If it has not yet been calculated, then it calls the tryToComputeNext() function, which calculates the next element.

`private enum class State Ready,NotReady,Done,Failedpublic abstract class AbstractIterator<T> : Iterator<T> private var state = State.NotReadyprivate var nextValue: T? = nulloverride fun hasNext(): Boolean require(state != State.Failed)return when (state) State.Done -> falseState.Ready -> trueelse -> tryToComputeNext()override fun next(): T if (!hasNext()) throw NoSuchElementException()state = State.NotReady@Suppress("UNCHECKED_CAST")return nextValue as Tprivate fun tryToComputeNext(): Boolean state = State.FailedcomputeNext()return state == State.Readyabstract protected fun computeNext(): Unitprotected fun setNext(value: T): Unit nextValue = valuestate = State.Readyprotected fun done() state = State.Done`

It seems that the code is written very competently and at first glance there should be no problems here. But where are our loss then?

The sequence decorator for the filter function is implemented in a very similar way, however, it does not provide such a disadvantage compared to collections. I started comparing the code of the two decorators and looking for significant differences.

As you can see, the principle of implementing the filter is very similar. Again, there is a state for calculating the next element and it is also stored in the nextState field.

There is also a method for calculating the next element calcNext(), which is similar to the tryToComputeNext() method in the distinct function

`internal class FilteringSequence<T>(private val sequence: Sequence<T>,private val sendWhen: Boolean = true,private val predicate: (T) -> Boolean) : Sequence<T> {override fun iterator(): Iterator<T> = object : Iterator<T> val iterator = sequence.iterator()// -1 for unknown, 0 for done, 1 for continuevar nextState: Int = -1 var nextItem: T? = nullprivate fun calcNext() while (iterator.hasNext()) val item = iterator.next()if (predicate(item) == sendWhen) nextItem = itemnextState = 1returnnextState = 0override fun next(): T if (nextState == -1)calcNext()if (nextState == 0)throw NoSuchElementException()val result = nextItemnextItem = nullnextState = -1@Suppress("UNCHECKED_CAST")return result as Toverride fun hasNext(): Boolean if (nextState == -1)calcNext()return nextState == 1}`

It seems that, except for minor implementation details, the two functions are very similar in how they work.

At first, due to my incompetence, I suspected the abstract class and the virtual method calls. But no, if you remove the abstract class and move everything into one general class, the function will not be faster.

The only other significant difference between these two functions is Enum.

In the filter function we store the state as a regular Int number

`   // -1 for unknown, 0 for done, 1 for continuevar nextState: Int = -1`

And in the case of distinct we use a typed Enum for this

`private enum class State Ready,NotReady,Done,Failedprivate var state = State.NotReady`

But how can using the Enum class cause a 15% performance loss? This is impossible.

But I didn’t see any other options from the code analysis, so I decided to go down one level and analyze the byte-code of both functions.

If we look at the byte-code of checking the nextState variable for the filter function, we will not see anything unnecessary there. Simply loading variables onto the stack, checking their values, and passing control to call the appropriate block of code.

But if we look at the byte-code of the state variable check in the distinct function, we will see something interesting.

This is the code for checking state variable in the distinct function

`    return when (state) State.Done -> falseState.Ready -> trueelse -> tryToComputeNext()`

byte-code that corresponds to it

`#2   L0#3    LINENUMBER 20 L0#4    ALOAD 0#5    GETFIELD AbstractIterator.state : Lcom/AbstractIterator\$State;#6    GETSTATIC AbstractIterator\$WhenMappings.\$EnumSwitchMapping\$0 : [I#7    SWAP#8    INVOKEVIRTUAL AbstractIterator\$State.ordinal ()I#9    IALOAD#10   L1#11    TABLESWITCH#12      1: L2#13      2: L3#14      default: L4#15   L2`

I don’t think many people know how to read byte-code (at least I couldn’t), so I’m going to explain what’s going on what’s happening here line by line.

#5 — loads a pointer to the state variable onto the local stack
#6 — loads an array of ordinal values ​​of the enum class onto the local stack. (Why?)
#7 — swaps these two variables on the local stack
#8 — gets the ordinal value of the state variable
#9IALOAD looks in the array of ordinal values ​​enum class index ordinal values ​​of the state variable (WTF???)
#11 — the found index is passed to the input of the TABLESWITCH operator and then the transition occurs along the required code branch.

As a result, it turns out that when using the when operator in combination with enum, we get an unnecessary loading of the array of all enum values onto the local stack at each comparison.

At the same time, if we rewrite the comparison through ordinal values, we can avoid this unnecessary and costly operation.

`  return when (state.ordinal) State.Done.ordinal -> falseState.Ready.ordinal -> trueelse -> tryToComputeNext()`

In fact, such a check of the enum value by searching the ordinal array of class enum values ​​can only be relevant in one case. When the value checking code can be compiled separately from the enum class declaration code. It seems that this is not possible in the case of Android.

Later, after I understood the problem, I found an old article by Jake Wharton in which he describes a similar problem (R8 Optimization: Enum Switch Maps, 2019)

In this article, he promised to fix this back in 2019, but apparently did not have time.

I tried to rewrite the distinct function taking into account the nuances of enum processing. I removed the enum class and used regular Int constants to store the state.

## Measurement results of the original and optimized distinct function

As a result, the function became about 10%-15% faster, which I think is significant.

## Source code of the optimized distinct function

`private class OptimizedDistinctIterator<T, K>(private val source: Iterator<T>, private val keySelector: (T) -> K) : Iterator<T>private val observed = HashSet<K>()//  UNDEFINED_STATE, HAS_NEXT_ITEM, HAS_FINISHED private var nextState: Int = UNDEFINED_STATEprivate var nextItem: T? = nulloverride fun hasNext(): Boolean if (nextState == UNDEFINED_STATE)calcNext()return nextState == HAS_NEXT_ITEMoverride fun next(): T if (nextState == UNDEFINED_STATE)calcNext()if (nextState == HAS_FINISHED)throw NoSuchElementException()nextState = UNDEFINED_STATEreturn nextItem as Tprivate fun calcNext() while (source.hasNext()) val next = source.next()val key = keySelector(next)if (observed.add(key)) nextItem = nextnextState = HAS_NEXT_ITEM // found next itemreturnnextState = HAS_FINISHED // end of iterator`