StringSwitch class

Hi:

I have a question about the llvm StringSwitch class. Why is this more efficient than comparing the hashes of the strings or just using a bunch of if statements.

Anupama

I don’t know about “more efficient” but a StringSwitch is certainly more concise and readable than a series of if statements with similar functionality (such as doing length checks before the string compare).

Hashes always run the risk of collisions (false matches).

–paulr

I don't know about hashes performance (comparing a small string is probably more efficient than comparing hashes, and I'd be reluctant to collisions anyway). Now since you mentioned a "bunch of if statements" you can get very close.
StringSwitch is caching the length of the string to compare and first checking the length before doing the actual comparison using memcmp. So the two constructs below it should be equivalent:

int i = StringSwitch<int>("abc").case("de", 1).case("fghi", 2).case("jkl", 3).default(-1);

and:

int i;
const char *str = "abc";
int len = strlen(str);
if(len == 2 && std::memcmp(str, "de", 2) {
   i = 1;
} else if(len == 4 && std::memcmp(str, "fghi", 4) {
   i = 2;
} else if(len == 3 && std::memcmp(str, "jkl", 3) {
   i = 3;
} else {
   i = -1
}

I left up to you to appreciate the readability :slight_smile:

ok, I understand hashes might not be the best.

I agree that the StringSwitch is concise and easy to read, but aren’t we doing a bunch of extra work even if a match is found in the very first case, while in the if we would early exit.

Anupama

The StringSwitch should behaves exactly like the if-sequence I sent. I you have any reason to believe it does, please quote the code and I’ll be happy to review.

Also, note that this sequence is specifically intended to be jump threadable and recognized by the compiler’s optimizer. This allows the compiler to turn it into:

int len = strlen(str);
switch (len) {
case 2:
   if (std::memcmp(str, "de", 2)
     i = 1;
   else (std::memcmp(str, “qr", 2)
     i = 1;
   else
     i = -1;
  case 4:
..

Which isn’t optimal perhaps, but isn’t bad either. The compiler should theoretically be able to do good things with back-to-back memcmps, but probably isn’t doing anything good there for long ones. Short memcmps should be turned into a load+compare, meaning they become another switch.

-Chris

The point I was wondering about is, say in the example, say the input string is “de”

int i = StringSwitch(“de”)
.case(“de”, 1)
.case(“fghi”, 2)
.case(“jkl”, 3)
.default(-1);

will cause the 3 function calls to “Case()” and 1 to “Default()”, Even if the functions were inlined I would perform an if(!Result) check though Result has been found, however if I were to code the same as:

int len = strlen(str);
if(len == 2 && std::memcmp(str, “de”, 2) {
i = 1;
} else if(len == 4 && std::memcmp(str, “fghi”, 4) {
i = 2;
} else if(len == 3 && std::memcmp(str, “jkl”, 3) {
i = 3;
} else {
i = -1
}

I would be performing only one if check.

Sorry for belaboring on a possibly minor point here, but is my understanding correct that even assuming that the case function is always inlined so we don’t have extra function call overhead, we have the redundant if (!Result) checks when we use StringSwitch as opposed to a bunch of if- elses.

Thanks.

From a pure syntactic point of view, yes.
But it is meaningless as you are trying to think about a higher-level language construct and redundant check while you should really have a look at the optimized code if you’re concerned with performance.

Got it. Thanks.