Author vstinner
Recipients inada.naoki, larry, rhettinger, vstinner
Date 2017-01-19.10:03:48
SpamBayes Score -1.0
Marked as misclassified Yes
Message-id <>
Oops, I forgot a DECREF: fixed in the patch version 2.


Oh wait, I misunderstood how dict.update() is called. In fact, they are two bytecodes to call a function with keyword arguments.

(1) Using **kwargs:

>>> def f():
...  d.update(**d2)
>>> dis.dis(f)
  2           0 LOAD_GLOBAL              0 (d)
              2 LOAD_ATTR                1 (update)
              4 BUILD_TUPLE              0
              6 LOAD_GLOBAL              2 (d2)
              8 CALL_FUNCTION_EX         1
             10 POP_TOP
             12 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
             14 RETURN_VALUE

(2) Using a list of key=value:

>>> def g():
...  d.update(x=1, y=2)
>>> dis.dis(g)
  2           0 LOAD_GLOBAL              0 (d)
              2 LOAD_ATTR                1 (update)
              4 LOAD_CONST               1 (1)
              6 LOAD_CONST               2 (2)
              8 LOAD_CONST               3 (('x', 'y'))
             10 CALL_FUNCTION_KW         2
             12 POP_TOP
             14 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
             16 RETURN_VALUE

The problem is that the dict.update() method has a single implementation, the C dict_update() function.

For (2), there is a speedup, but it's minor:

$ ./python -m perf timeit -s 'd={"x": 1, "y": 2}' 'd.update(x=1, y=2)' -p10 --compare-to=../default-ref/python 
Median +- std dev: [ref] 185 ns +- 62 ns -> [patched] 177 ns +- 2 ns: 1.05x faster (-5%)

For (1), I expected that **kwargs would be unpacked *before* calling dict.update(), but kwargs is passed unchanged to dict.update() directly! With my patch, CALL_FUNCTION_EX calls PyCFunction_Call() which uses _PyStack_UnpackDict() to create kwnames and then dict_update() rebuilds a new temporary dictionary. It's completely inefficient! As Raymond expected, it's much slower:

haypo@smithers$ ./python -m perf timeit -s 'd={"x": 1, "y": 2}; d2=dict(d)' 'd.update(**d2)' -p10 --compare-to=../default-ref/python
Median +- std dev: [ref] 114 ns +- 1 ns -> [patched] 232 ns +- 21 ns: 2.04x slower (+104%)

I expect that (1) dict.update(**kwargs) is more common than (2) dict.update(x=1, y=2). Moreover, the speedup for (2) is low (5%), so I prefer to reject this issue.


Naoki: "So, when considering METH_FASTCALL, supporting **kwargs is lowest priority. (Off course, supporting it by AC with METH_KEYWORDS is nice to have)"

Hum, dict.update() is the first function that I found that really wants a Python dict at the end.

For dict1.update(**dict2), METH_VARARGS|METH_KEYWORDS is already optimal.

So I don't think that it's worth it to micro-optimize the way to pass positional arguments. The common case is to call dict1.update(dict2) which requires to build a temporary tuple of 1 item. PyTuple_New() uses a free list for such small tuple, so it should be fast enough.

I found a few functions which pass through keyword arguments, but they are "proxy". I'm converting all METH_VARARGS|METH_KEYWORDS to METH_FASTCALL, so most functions will expects a kwnames tuple at the end of the call for keyword arguments. In this case, using METH_FASTCALL for the proxy is optimum for func(x=1, y=2) (CALL_FUNCTION_KW), but slower for func(**kwargs) (CALL_FUNCTION_EX).

With METH_FASTCALL, CALL_FUNCTION_EX requires to unpack the dictionary if I understood correctly.
Date User Action Args
2017-01-19 10:03:50vstinnersetrecipients: + vstinner, rhettinger, larry, inada.naoki
2017-01-19 10:03:50vstinnersetmessageid: <>
2017-01-19 10:03:50vstinnerlinkissue29312 messages
2017-01-19 10:03:48vstinnercreate