Profiling in NetBeans - Computer & Information Science

jetmorebrisketSoftware and s/w Development

Aug 15, 2012 (5 years and 1 month ago)






is the process of making a program as fast (or as
small) as possible

Here’s what the experts say about optimization:

Sir Tony Hoare:
“Premature optimization is the root of all evil.”

Donald Knuth:
“We should forget about small efficiencies, say about
97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil.”

W. A. Wulf:

“More computing sins are committed in the name of
efficiency (without necessarily achieving it) than for any other single

including blind stupidity.”

Michael A. Jackson:

“The First and Second Rules of Program Optimization:

Don’t do it.

(For experts only!) Don’t do it yet.”

Richard Carlson:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

When should you optimize?

Optimize when (and


A program you have written is taking too long to run

A method you have written will be called millions or billions of times in a
highly graphics
intensive application

Your code is going into the kernel of an operating system

One of the major principles of the XP (Extreme Programming)
approach is: “Do the simplest thing that could possibly work.”

In other words, don’t use a faster method in preference to a simpler one

If it turns out to be too slow, you can fix it later

However: If efficiency is

ignored in a large project, it
may be very difficult to fix it later

Individual methods can be improved, but if the
overall design

of the
project is inefficient, redesign can be prohibitively expensive

What should you optimize?

From Wikipedia: In engineering,

is a phenomenon
where the performance or capacity of an entire system is limited
by a single component

The 90/10 rule is: 90% of the runtime is taken up by 10% of the

That 10% is the bottleneck

This is where significant improvements can be made

How do you find the bottleneck?

Intuition is surprisingly inaccurate


is a program that measures which parts of your program are
taking the most time (or using the most memory)

Use a profiler before you waste your time optimizing the wrong
part of the program!

What shouldn’t you optimize?

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Virtually any modern compiler is better at optimization than you


for (int i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {

int limit = 100;

if (array[i] > limit) array[i] = limit;


Would this be faster if you took the assignment to

out of the

No! The compiler will do that anyway

In fact, there is a fair chance that doing so would
slow your program

How should you optimize?

The best way to speed up a bottleneck is to
avoid doing
it altogether!

Example: In one case study I read about, one program added
debugging information to a dataset; the dataset was sent to a
second program, which stripped off the debugging
information before using the dataset

Eliminating the debugging information doubled the speed of the

The second best way is to find a faster algorithm

This what a course in “Analysis of Algorithms” is all about

Always remember, though, that in “real life” you
should use a profiler to find out what to optimize

The fastest sorting algorithm in the world won’t help you
very much if you’re sorting a 10
element array

Aside: Timing without a profiler

Here’s an easy way to time a section of code:

long t = System.currentTimeMillis();

// code to be timed goes here

t = System.currentTimeMillis()


System.out.println(t + " milliseconds");

Basic use of the NetBeans Profiler

First, make sure the
project you want to
profile is NetBean’s
“Main Project”

Adding the profiler to the project

Next, choose
Profile > Profile Main Project...

You will get the following message; just click

Profile execution speeds

Next, click
, then
Part of application
, then




Select root methods

Select the
methods you
want to
profile, then
click OK

Run the program

Click the


Look at the results

I’ve left out a couple of obvious steps

This is just a very basic introduction
you should
explore some of the options yourself

Problems with profiling

Profiling is not as useful for distributed code

For example, an application that runs on a server, accesses a database,
makes remote calls, does input/output, etc., is too distributed for profiling
to be much help

Environment “noise” can be a problem

Profiling is more meaningful in the absence of “alien” code, network
access, input/output, etc.

Try to isolate the code to be profiled from these factors

Many Java compilers

the code the first time through,
rather than compile it

Run the code being tested multiple times, rather than just once

Longer runs are better; ideally, your profiling run should take tens of
seconds, or a few minutes

The End