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Re: Annotations for side effects and stability

From: Alex Milowski <alex@milowski.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2006 14:32:03 -0700
Message-ID: <444D43D3.1090305@milowski.org>
To: public-xml-processing-model-wg@w3.org
I've put the first four examples into flow graphs for discussion
purposes.


Jeni Tennison wrote:
> 
> Hi,
> 
> Trying to put my thoughts into order... Given that we annotate 
> components/steps to indicate what optimisations a pipeine engine can do, 
> what are those annotations going to be and what do they permit the 
> pipeline engine to do?
> 
> To summarise: I think we need to provide annotations at both the 
> component level and the step level, indicating whether the 
> component/step has side-effects or not, and how stable it is. We also 
> need to be clear about what extra environment information is passed to 
> each component.
> 
> First, let's consider some possible optimisations that a pipeline engine 
> might want to do:
> 
> 1. Omit the step if its outputs aren't used. For example, p:unused in
> this pipeline:
> 
>    <p:pipeline>
>      <p:output ref="foo" />
>      <p:step name="p:unused">
>        <p:input href="unused.xml" />
>        <p:output label="unused" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:foo">
>        <p:input href="foo.xml" />
>        <p:output label="foo" />
>      </p:step>
>    </p:pipeline>

I wouldn't call this an optimization.  Maybe you are suppose to run 
both.  Maybe I the "unused" step does something but the output isn't
important.

> 2. Run the step multiple times. For example, p:reused in this pipeline:
> 
>    <p:pipeline>
>      <p:output ref="bar" />
>      <p:step name="p:reused">
>        <p:input href="reused.xml" />
>        <p:output label="reused" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:foo">
>        <p:input ref="reused" />
>        <p:output label="foo" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:bar">
>        <p:input name="doc1" ref="reused" />
>        <p:input name="doc2" ref="foo" />
>        <p:output label="bar" />
>      </p:step>
>    </p:pipeline>

There are two distinct choices here in terms of the flow graph.
I would expect our concrete language to make these very different
flow graphs clear.

> 
> 3. Reorder the steps in the pipeline, e.g. parallel execution. For
> example, running p:second before, or at the same time as, p:first in
> this pipeline:
> 
>    <p:pipeline>
>      <p:output ref="foo" />
>      <p:step name="p:first">
>        <p:input href="first.xml" />
>        <p:output label="first" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:second">
>        <p:input href="second.xml" />
>        <p:output label="second" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:foo">
>        <p:input name="doc1" ref="first" />
>        <p:input name="doc2" ref="second" />
>        <p:output label="foo" />
>      </p:step>
>    </p:pipeline>

Yes, this should be allowed.

> 
> 4. Use cached results of the component invoked in the same way in the
> same pipeline invocation. For example, using 'copy1' rather than 'copy2'
> in the p:foo step in this pipeline:
> 
>    <p:pipeline>
>      <p:output ref="foo" />
>      <p:step name="p:copy">
>        <p:input href="copy.xml" />
>        <p:output label="copy1" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:copy">
>        <p:input href="copy.xml" />
>        <p:output label="copy2" />
>      </p:step>
>      <p:step name="p:foo">
>        <p:input name="doc1" ref="copy1" />
>        <p:input name="doc2" ref="copy2" />
>        <p:output label="foo" />
>      </p:step>
>    </p:pipeline>

I don't see how this is different than #3.  The graphs are exactly the
same.

> 
> 3. Use cached results of the component invoked in the same way in a
> different pipeline invocation. For example, cache the 'foo' document in
> this pipeline and reuse it the next time the pipeline is invoked,
> assuming that foo.xml hasn't changed in the meantime:
> 
>    <p:pipeline>
>      <p:output ref="foo" />
>      <p:step name="p:foo">
>        <p:input href="foo.xml" />
>        <p:output label="foo" />
>      </p:step>
>    </p:pipeline>

I see this as environment specific.  Many web-server technologies (e.g. 
Cocoon, struts, etc.) cache calculated results.  I'm not sure we
need to go there... but implementors certainly will want to do
something about that.

> I think there are two things that effect which of these optimisations
> can be carried out:
> 
> A. Whether the step has side effects: it does something other than
> generating the outputs defined for the step. Updating a database is
> an example.

This might be a simple way to distinguish which version of #2 is used.

<snip/>

> 
> If a step has side-effects then it must be run exactly once. Steps
> without side-effects can be omitted or run several times, though if an
> unstable step is run multiple times then all but the first invocation
> must be ignored, as the result might be different each time.

Maybe I want a step with a side-effect to run more than once--maybe
every time.  We can't dictate which way is correct--just that you have
control to choose.

> The outputs of stable steps can be cached and reused. As long as it's
> stable, the outputs of a step with side effects are still cachable: the 
> pipeline engine has to run the step anyway, and can't get on with other 
> steps until it's finished, but could possibly glean some performance 
> benefit from reusing outputs if it meant it didn't have to re-parse a 
> large XML document, for example. An example of a stable step with side 
> effects is one that takes an XML document, updates a database with the 
> data it contains, and returns the same XML document as the result.

An alternative here is that if you want an output to be re-used (e.g. 
cached), you can create and output/input dependency.  In example #2,
the first flow graph I wrote down re-uses the output of the "p:reused"
step.  In the second flow graph, a completely different invocation
of the step is used.


-- 
--Alex Milowski



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Received on Monday, 24 April 2006 21:32:16 GMT

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