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bug#21763: poor performance since grep 2.19 when comparing files with gr

From: Jim Meyering
Subject: bug#21763: poor performance since grep 2.19 when comparing files with grep
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2015 11:39:54 -0700

On Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 5:54 AM, Bennett, Steve
<address@hidden> wrote:
> Apologies in advance if this is more of a "discuss" question, but it looks 
> like a particular use-case shows a marked change in performance between 
> recent versions of grep.
> A colleague mentioned a performance issue with grep to me, and its puzzling 
> me a bit.
> It turns out that he was using "grep -Fvif" to find lines in one file that 
> are not present in another.
> Up until grep 2.18 this seems to work with linear performance and it takes 
> less than 50ms to compare files up to about 20,000 lines.
> With grep 2.19 and later, ever relatively small files are quite slow, runtime 
> (and memory use) increases exponentially (e.g. 300ms to compare 200 lines, 
> 1.5s to compare 400 lines, 5s to compare 600 lines).
> I've shown my colleague how to use sort and diff (and "comm", which I think 
> is vastly underrated), but it made me wonder if this is a reasonable thing to 
> expect grep to be able to do, and whether such a performance drop should be 
> seen as a bug.
> The way he was using it, he had two (unsorted) data sets (about 6000 rows in 
> each), with most lines being common, and he was just using:
>     grep -Fvif FILE1 FILE2
> In his case, the older version of grep took way less than a second to run, 
> but after he had upgraded his machine it took 20 minutes before running out 
> of swap and seg faulting.
> In terms of comparing performance, I've found that the following works to 
> compare performance (vary N to try different sized data files):
>     N=600; F=/tmp/zz.$$; seq -f '%g bottles of beer on the wall' 1 $N > $F; 
> time grep -Fvif $F $F; rm $F

Thank you for reporting that.
Interesting: that progression (time vs. increasing N) is clearly
quadratic or worse when using a multibyte locale, but is linear with
LC_ALL=C. I suspect when you run "locale", it reports something like

I.e., if you have no need for multi-byte matching, set LC_ALL=C, and
that idiom will be very quick, even for a million lines:

  $ N=1000000; F=/tmp/zz.$$; seq -f '%g bottles of beer on the wall' 1
$N > $F; LC_ALL=C env time grep -Fvif $F $F; rm $F
  0.78user 0.08system 0:00.86elapsed 100%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata
  0inputs+0outputs (0major+32587minor)pagefaults 0swaps

Currently, I am not planning even to investigate this for the imminent release.

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