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[CLJ-1420] ThreadLocalRandom instead of Math/random Created: 11/May/14  Updated: 29/Aug/14

Status: Open
Project: Clojure
Component/s: None
Affects Version/s: Release 1.7
Fix Version/s: Backlog

Type: Enhancement Priority: Minor
Reporter: Linus Ericsson Assignee: Unassigned
Resolution: Unresolved Votes: 0
Labels: math, performance

Requires Java >=1.7!

Attachments: Text File 0001-rand-using-ThreadLocalRandom-and-tests-for-random.patch    
Patch: Code
Approval: Vetted


The standard Math.random() is thread-safe through being declared as a synchronized static method.

The patch uses java.util.concurrent.ThreadLocalRandom which actually seems to be two times faster than the ordinary Math.random() in a simple single threaded criterium.core/bench:

The reason I investigated the function at all was to be sure random-number generation was not a bottleneck when performance testing multithreaded load generation.

If necessary, one could of course make a conditional declaration (like in fj-reducers) based on the existence of the class java.util.concurrent.ThreadLocalRandom, if Clojure 1.7 is to be compatible with Java versions < 1.7

Comment by Linus Ericsson [ 11/May/14 11:05 AM ]

Benchmark on current rand (clojure 1.6.0), $ java -version
java version "1.7.0_51"
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (IcedTea 2.4.4) (7u51-2.4.4-0ubuntu0.13.10.1)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (build 24.45-b08, mixed mode)

:jvm-opts ^:replace [] (ie no arguments to the JVM)

(bench (rand 10))
Evaluation count : 1281673680 in 60 samples of 21361228 calls.
Execution time mean : 43.630075 ns
Execution time std-deviation : 0.420801 ns
Execution time lower quantile : 42.823363 ns ( 2.5%)
Execution time upper quantile : 44.456267 ns (97.5%)
Overhead used : 3.194591 ns

Found 1 outliers in 60 samples (1.6667 %)
low-severe 1 (1.6667 %)
Variance from outliers : 1.6389 % Variance is slightly inflated by outliers

Clojure 1.7.0-master-SNAPSHOT.

(bench (rand 10))
Evaluation count : 2622694860 in 60 samples of 43711581 calls.
Execution time mean : 20.474605 ns
Execution time std-deviation : 0.248034 ns
Execution time lower quantile : 20.129894 ns ( 2.5%)
Execution time upper quantile : 21.009303 ns (97.5%)
Overhead used : 2.827337 ns

Found 2 outliers in 60 samples (3.3333 %)
low-severe 2 (3.3333 %)
Variance from outliers : 1.6389 % Variance is slightly inflated by outliers

I had similar results on Clojure 1.6.0, and ran several different tests with similar results. java.util.Random.nextInt is suprisingly bad. The ThreadLocalRandom version of .nextInt is better, but rand-int can take negative integers, which would lead to some argument conversion for (.nextInt (ThreadLocalRandom/current) n) since it need upper and lower bounds instead of a simple multiplication of a random number [0,1).


The (.nextDouble (ThreadLocalRandom/current) argument) is very quick, but cannot handle negative arguments. The speed given a plain multiplication is about 30 ns.

Comment by Linus Ericsson [ 11/May/14 12:44 PM ]

Added some simplistic tests to be sure that rand and rand-int accepts ratios, doubles and negative numbers of various kinds. A real test would likely include repeated generative testing, these tests are mostly for knowing that various arguments works etc.

Comment by Linus Ericsson [ 11/May/14 1:38 PM ]

0001-rand-using-ThreadLocalRandom-and-tests-for-random.patch contains the changed (rand) AND the test cases.

Comment by Alex Miller [ 11/May/14 5:45 PM ]

Clojure requires Java 1.6.0 so this will need to be reconsidered at a later date. We do not currently have any plans to bump the minimum required JDK in Clojure 1.7 although that could change of course.

Comment by Gary Fredericks [ 11/May/14 5:54 PM ]

I've always thought that the randomness features in general are of limited utility due to the inability to seed the PRNG, and that a clojure.core/rand dynamic var would be a reasonable way to do that.

Maybe both of these problems could be partially solved with a standard library? I started one at https://github.com/fredericksgary/four, but presumably a contrib library would be easier for everybody to standardize on.

Comment by Linus Ericsson [ 12/May/14 2:17 AM ]

Gary, I'm all for creating some well-thought out random-library, which could be a candidate for some library clojure.core.random if that would be useful.

Please have a look at http://code.google.com/p/javarng/ since that seems to do what you library four does (and more). Probably we could salvage either APIs, algorithms or both from this library.

I'll contact you via mail!

Comment by Gary Fredericks [ 20/Jun/14 10:21 AM ]

Come to think of it, a rand var in clojure.core shouldn't be a breaking change, so I'll just make a ticket for that to see how it goes. That should at the very least allow solving the concurrency issue with binding. The only objection I can think of is perf issues with dynamic vars?

Comment by Gary Fredericks [ 20/Jun/14 10:42 AM ]

New issue is at CLJ-1452.

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 29/Aug/14 4:50 PM ]

Patch 0001-rand-using-ThreadLocalRandom-and-tests-for-random.patch dated May 11 2014 no longer applied cleanly to latest master after some commits were made to Clojure on Aug 29, 2014. It did apply cleanly before that day.

I have not checked how easy or difficult it might be to update this patch. See section "Updating Stale Patches" on this wiki page for some tips on updating patches: http://dev.clojure.org/display/community/Developing+Patches

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