Fastest method to generate big random string with lower Latin letters

12,975

Solution 1

Here's Python 3 code that generates 1000000 "random" lowercase letters in 0.28 seconds (see also 0.11-seconds solution at the end; @Ashwini Chaudhary's code from the question takes 0.55 seconds on my machine, @Markku K.'s code -- 0.53):

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import os
import sys

def write_random_lowercase(n):
    min_lc = ord(b'a')
    len_lc = 26
    ba = bytearray(os.urandom(n))
    for i, b in enumerate(ba):
        ba[i] = min_lc + b % len_lc # convert 0..255 to 97..122
    sys.stdout.buffer.write(ba)

write_random_lowercase(1000000)

% len_lc skews the distribution (see at the end on how to fix it) though It still satisfies the conditions (ascii, lowercase, frequencies of 1, 2, 3 letter sequences):

$ python3 generate-random.py | python3 check-seq.py

where check-seq.py:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import sys
from collections import Counter
from string import ascii_lowercase

def main():
    limits = [40000, 2000, 100]

    s = sys.stdin.buffer.readline() # a single line
    assert 1000000 <= len(s) <= 1000002 # check length +/- newline
    s.decode('ascii','strict') # check ascii
    assert set(s) == set(ascii_lowercase.encode('ascii')) # check lowercase

    for n, lim in enumerate(limits, start=1):
        freq = Counter(tuple(s[i:i+n]) for i in range(len(s)))
        assert max(freq.values()) <= lim, freq

main()

Note: on acm.timus.ru generate-random.py gives "Output limit exceeded".

To improve performance, you could use bytes.translate() method (0.11 seconds):

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import os
import sys

# make translation table from 0..255 to 97..122
tbl = bytes.maketrans(bytearray(range(256)),
                      bytearray([ord(b'a') + b % 26 for b in range(256)]))
# generate random bytes and translate them to lowercase ascii
sys.stdout.buffer.write(os.urandom(1000000).translate(tbl))

How to fix % len_lc skew

256 (number of bytes) is not evenly divisible by 26 (number of lower Latin letters) therefore the formula min_lc + b % len_lc makes some values appear less often than others e.g.:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
"""Find out skew: x = 97 + y % 26 where y is uniform from [0, 256) range."""
from collections import Counter, defaultdict

def find_skew(random_bytes):
    char2freq = Counter(chr(ord(b'a') + b % 26) for b in random_bytes)
    freq2char = defaultdict(set)
    for char, freq in char2freq.items():
        freq2char[freq].add(char)
    return {f: ''.join(sorted(c)) for f, c in freq2char.items()}

print(find_skew(range(256)))
# -> {9: 'wxyz', 10: 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuv'}

Here, the input range(256) is uniformly distributed (each byte occurs exactly once) but 'wxyz' letters in the output are less often then the rest 9 vs. 10 occurrences. To fix it, unaligned bytes could be dropped:

print(find_skew(range(256 - (256 % 26))))
# -> {9: 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz'}

Here, the input is uniformly distributed bytes in the range [0, 234) the output is uniformly distributed ascii lowercase letters.

bytes.translate() accepts the second argument to specify bytes to delete:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import os
import sys

nbytes = 256
nletters = 26
naligned = nbytes - (nbytes % nletters)
tbl = bytes.maketrans(bytearray(range(naligned)),
                      bytearray([ord(b'a') + b % nletters
                                 for b in range(naligned)]))
bytes2delete = bytearray(range(naligned, nbytes))
R = lambda n: os.urandom(n).translate(tbl, bytes2delete)

def write_random_ascii_lowercase_letters(write, n):
    """*write* *n* random ascii lowercase letters."""    
    while n > 0:
        # R(n) expected to drop `(nbytes - nletters) / nbytes` bytes
        # to compensate, increase the initial size        
        n -= write(memoryview(R(n * nbytes // naligned + 1))[:n])

write = sys.stdout.buffer.write
write_random_ascii_lowercase_letters(write, 1000000)

If the random generator (os.urandom here) produces long sequences of the bytes that are outside of the aligned range (>=234) then the while loop may execute many times.

The time performance can be improved by another order of magnitude if random.getrandbits(8*n).to_bytes(n, 'big') is used instead of os.urandom(n). The former uses Mersenne Twister as the core generator that may be faster than os.urandom() that uses sources provided by the operating system. The latter is more secure if you use the random string for secrets.

Solution 2

Use string.ascii_lowercase instead of chr to generate lowercase charaters:

from sys import stdin
from random import choice
from string import ascii_lowercase

s = ''.join([choice(ascii_lowercase) for _ in range(1000000)])
stdout.write(s)

Also writing to stdout directly appears to be faster, encoding yourself in python is not faster than having it all handled in the C code.

I also use a list comprehension; str.join() needs to scan through the input sequence twice, once to determine the length of the output, once to actually copy the input elements to output string. A list comprehension then beats out the slower generator-to-list code.

Just using choice(ascii_lowercase) over your method of generating each character from an integer is over twice as fast:

>>> timeit.timeit('f()', 'from __main__ import yours as f', number=3)
11.299837955011753
>>> timeit.timeit('f()', 'from __main__ import mine as f', number=3)
5.330044150992762

You could try and avoid the ''.join() overhead by writing individual characters directly to stdout:

from sys import stdout
from random import choice
from string import ascii_lowercase

for _ in range(1000000):
    stdout.write(choice(ascii_lowercase))

Next to try is to write raw bytes:

from sys import stdout
from random import choice
from string import ascii_lowercase
bal = [c.encode('ascii') for c in ascii_lowercase]
out = stdout.buffer

for _ in range(1000000):
    out.write(choice(bal))

but these are no improvements over ''.join() in my tests.

Next we move to encoding the ASCII characters to bytes once, then using bytes.join():

from sys import stdout
from random import choice
from string import ascii_lowercase

bal = [c.encode('ascii') for c in ascii_lowercase]
stdout.buffer.write(b''.join([choice(bal) for _ in range(1000000)]))

bal is a list of lowercase ASCII characters encoded to bytes, from which we random pick 1 million items, join them to into a large byte string then write that in one go to the binary stdout buffer.

The bytes join is just as 'slow' as the string version:

>>> timeit.timeit('f()', 'from __main__ import bytes as f', number=3)
5.41390264898655

but we encode 26 characters, not 1 million so the write stage is faster.

Solution 3

My solution which just got accepted (python 2.7, Execution time: 0.984):

from random import choice
from string import ascii_lowercase

lis = list(ascii_lowercase)
print ''.join(choice(lis) for _ in xrange(1000000)) 

Accessing elements of a list is faster is than for strings.

In [13]: from random import choice

In [14]: from string import ascii_lowercase

In [15]: lis = list(ascii_lowercase)

In [16]: %timeit ''.join(choice(lis) for _ in xrange(10**5))
1 loops, best of 3: 128 ms per loop

In [17]: %timeit ''.join(choice(ascii_lowercase) for _ in xrange(10**5))
1 loops, best of 3: 134 ms per loop

And you don't need stdout or stdin here as most online judges us something like this to test your script:

$python script.py <in.txt >out.txt

So you can use print instead of stdout and raw_input() instead of stdin, though for huge inputs stdin.readline is faster than raw_input().

Update 1:

Using @Markku's tip execution time was reduced to .64 in py2.7:

from random import random
from string import ascii_lowercase

lis = list(ascii_lowercase)
print "".join( [lis[int(random() * 26)] for _ in xrange(1000000)] )

Solution 4

I get a huge speed improvement by changing from randint(0,25) to int(random()*25) in your original solution. On my machine, the time went from about 2 seconds, to about 0.6 seconds. If you take a look at the random.py code, you will see that randint is full of checks that you don't want or need.

update: Oops, off by one. You need int(random()*26). Thanks Ashwini

Solution 5

Try turning some part of it into C++ or another compiled language. That will almost guaranteed make it faster. Python, unfortunately, isn't too fast, especially when it comes to things like this. Try C++, C, or Pascal.

EDIT: Also see the Python Performance Tips

Share:
12,975

Related videos on Youtube

ilalex
Author by

ilalex

Updated on September 16, 2022

Comments

  • ilalex
    ilalex 5 months

    I'm trying to solve this problem from Timus Online Judge. To solve this problem you need generate a sequence of 1 000 000 lowercase Latin letters and write it to stdin in 1 second.

    It is easy to solve this problem with C++ or Java. I have python solution here:

    import os
    from random import randint
    
    s = ''.join(chr(97 + randint(0, 25)) for i in range(1000000))
    os.write(1, bytes(s, 'utf8'))
    

    It takes 1.7s:

    $ time python3.3 1219.py > /dev/null
    
    real    0m1.756s
    user    0m1.744s
    sys     0m0.008s
    

    And I got "Time limit exceeded" in result. So the question is "How to do it faster?"

    UPD1: Using randint(97, 122) reduces time at 16ms. Now it is 1.740s

    UPD2: Solution by @Martijn Pieters takes 0.979s, but it doesn't pass test either.

    UPD3 Martijn Pieters suggested a very good solutions, but it's still slow:

    from sys import stdin
    from random import choice
    from string import ascii_lowercase
    
    s = ''.join([choice(ascii_lowercase) for _ in range(1000000)])
    stdout.write(s) 
    

    Takes 0.924s

    from sys import stdout
    from random import choice
    from string import ascii_lowercase
    
    for _ in range(1000000):
        stdout.write(choice(ascii_lowercase))
    

    Takes 1.173s

    from sys import stdout
    from random import choice
    from string import ascii_lowercase
    bal = [c.encode('ascii') for c in ascii_lowercase]
    out = stdout.buffer
    
    for _ in range(1000000):
        out.write(choice(bal))
    

    Takes 1.155s

    from sys import stdout
    from random import choice
    from string import ascii_lowercase
    
    bal = [c.encode('ascii') for c in ascii_lowercase]
    stdout.buffer.write(b''.join([choice(bal) for _ in range(1000000)]))
    

    Takes 0.901s

    UPD4

    Some guy just solved problem on Timus. I hope he will share his solution :)

    UPD5 Thanks to Ashwini Chaudhary for sharing his Python 2.x solution with us:

    from random import choice
    from string import ascii_lowercase
    lis=list(ascii_lowercase)
    print ''.join(choice(lis) for _ in xrange(1000000)) 
    

    It takes 0.527s on my computer and it passes tests on Timus. But problem with Python3.x still remains.

    UPD6 Thanks to Markku K. this code:

    import os
    from random import random
    from string import ascii_lowercase
    
    bal = [c.encode('ascii') for c in ascii_lowercase]
    os.write(1, b''.join([bal[int(random() * 26)] for _ in range(1000000)]))
    

    Takes 0.445s, but still didn't pass the test

    • Ashwini Chaudhary
      Ashwini Chaudhary
      I already shared it. :)
    • Fred Foo
      Fred Foo
      randint(97, 122) might be a small timesaver over 97 + randint(0, 25). Even addition isn't cheap in Python because it involves typechecks.
    • mgilson
      mgilson
      Use a list-comprehension instead of a generator expression. That can sometimes save a bit when using join. (and join turns your generator into a list or a tuple anyway).
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    I can do it in C++. I want to know: is there way to do it Python?
  • kirbyfan64sos
    kirbyfan64sos almost 10 years
    @ilalex: See the Python Performance Tips.
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    How to use list comprehension if I need a string to write in stdout?
  • Martijn Pieters
    Martijn Pieters almost 10 years
    @ilalex: stdout you mean? It encodes the unicode string to bytes for you depending on the output encoding. In this case you only generate ASCII, so it's fine.
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    I'm trying to use list comprehension in that way: for a in [choice(ascii_lowercase) for _ in range(1000000)]: stdout.write(a) But it takes more time than your code above.
  • Martijn Pieters
    Martijn Pieters almost 10 years
    @ilalex: use for _ in range(1000000): stdout.write(choice(ascii_lowercase)) instead.
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    Avoiding ''.join() is slower.
  • Martijn Pieters
    Martijn Pieters almost 10 years
    @ilalex: Latest version uses bytes.join() instead.
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    Thank you! The latest is fastest.
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    I still have not solved this problem in python3.3, but I learned a lot thanks to you.
  • kirbyfan64sos
    kirbyfan64sos almost 10 years
    I can't see why this woudn't work in Python 3, other than the print statement.
  • ilalex
    ilalex almost 10 years
    I wrote them a letter about this issue and they have confirmed that they have bug with definition OLE in Python.
  • cfi
    cfi almost 10 years
    The fastest solution does exactly that: Moving as much functionality from explicit, interpreted code into Python's builtins and the stdlib - using bytearray, it's feature to internally call arbitrary constructors (again passing a builtin), and maketrans. J.F.'s trick is to not have a single loop coded in python but in C in Python's internals.
  • cfi
    cfi almost 10 years
    Not a criticism, just a general comment: The trick with speed in any interpreted language is to move as much control logic as possible into builtins instead of using interpreted code. Note how J.F.'s fastest solution does not have a single loop implemented in Python in the timing critical code: os.urandom does the mem allocation, and random number generation and str.translate iterates over the numbers, transcribing them into the wanted output format (latin lowercase chars). The end result is similar to what kirbyfan64sos proposed: Write your code in C. I'd say: Know your stdlib! :-)
  • jfs
    jfs almost 10 years
    @cfi: It is true bitwise operations on many bytes in Python code are much slower (x100-200 times) on CPython compared to C. Note: the fast implementation in Pypy, Jython, IronPython might look different.
  • Charalamm
    Charalamm almost 2 years
    the other answers return am object or a file with the data outputed and also show the time it took to run the code