Sunday, June 22, 2014

A little bit on the JVM and JIT

As you might be aware, the JVM(Java Virtusal Machine) is what makes it possible for Java to adhere to the write-once-run-anywhere paradigm. At its core, the JVM consists of the following components;

PermGen and Method Area
JIT Compiler
Code cache

The heap is where memory is allocated for every new operator you use during the application code development stage. Stack will store the local variables that you will assign within the scope of a method. One thing to note is that the variables defined within the scope of a method will be removed after the completion of the method. If for example, a String is assigned within the scope of a method, and its scope is guaranteed to be of local scope, then this will be stored in the stack which would otherwise be assigned within the heap.
The PermGen space will store class and method level data as well as static variables that are defined in your application. The method area is actual an area within the PermGen space where it will store all method,field, constant pool level details of your application.

The JIT compiler and the code cache go hand in hand. The JVM at its core interprets the Java Byte Code into assembly code at runtime. Interpreting can be a slow process because the code needs to be converted from byte code to machine code at runtime every time a portion of your application code is executed. This is where the JIT compiler comes into action, with its super awesome compilation of methods which it then stores in the code cache.

The JIT compiler analyzes the application code at runtime to understand which methods can be categorized as hot methods. Hot in this context meaning code fragments that are accessed more frequently. At a very high level, what the JIT compiler does is that it will have a counter for each method executed in order to understand the frequency of its usage. When the counter reaches a defined threshold value, the method then becomes eligible to be compiled by the JIT compiler to its respective assemble code which will then be stored within the code cache. What happens is that now, whenever the JIT compiler comes across calls to those methods which were compiled and stored within the code cache, it will not try to interpret them yet again but will use the already compiled assembly code available within the code cache. This gives your application a performance boost because using the compiled code is much faster than interpreting it during runtime.

When talking about the JIT compiler, there are mainly two flavors of it which we are mostly oblivious of due to the fact of the lack of documentation around them. The two types are;


The default compiler used will defer according to the machine architecture and the JVM version (32bit or 64bit) that you are running on. Let us briefly see what each one does.

The client compiler starts compiling your byte code to assembly code at the application startup time. What this indirectly means is that your application will have a much improved startup time. But the main disadvantage this brings along with it is that your code cache will run out of memory faster. Most optimizations can be made only after your application has run for a brief period of time. But since the client compiler already took up the code cache space, you will not have space to store the assembly code for these optimizations. This is where the server cache excels.

Unlike the client compiler, the server compiler will not start compiling at the start of your application. It will allow the application code to run for some time (which is often referred to as the warm-up period) after which it will start compiling the byte code to assembly code which it will then store within the code cache.
In my next post I will discuss how we can actually mix and match the client and server compilation and also introduce you to a few more JVM flags that we seldom come across but are vital for increasing the performance of your application.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Finding the Equilibrium index of an array

I wanted to do a brain teaser today so i took up an algorithmic question to give a shot at. Now i know this question already has many answer on the internet if you do a quick search. But i wanted to try it out with the solution that came to my mind. The problem statement is as follows;

Equilibrium index of an array is an index such that the sum of elements at lower indexes is equal to the sum of elements at higher indexes. For example, in an array A:

A[0] = -7, A[1] = 1, A[2] = 5, A[3] = 2, A[4] = -4, A[5] = 3, A[6]=0

3 is an equilibrium index, because:
A[0] + A[1] + A[2] = A[4] + A[5] + A[6]

6 is also an equilibrium index, because sum of zero elements is zero, i.e., A[0] + A[1] + A[2] + A[3] + A[4] + A[5]=0

7 is not an equilibrium index, because it is not a valid index of array A.

Write a function int equilibrium(int[] arr); that given a sequence arr[] of size n, returns an equilibrium index (if any) or -1 if no equilibrium indexes exist.

The solution i came up with is as follows;

public static int solution(int[] A) {

  if (A == null || A.length < 3)
   throw new RuntimeException("Cannot find equilirbium");
  int pointer = 1;
  int lowerIndCount = A[0];
  int upperIndCount = 0;

  for (int i = 2; i < A.length; i++) {
   upperIndCount += A[i];
   if (lowerIndCount < 0) {
    if (upperIndCount > lowerIndCount && i != A.length - 1)
    if (upperIndCount == lowerIndCount && i == A.length - 1)
    lowerIndCount += A[pointer];
    upperIndCount = 0;
    i = pointer;
   } else {
    if (upperIndCount > lowerIndCount) {
     lowerIndCount += A[pointer];
     upperIndCount = 0;
     i = pointer;

  if (upperIndCount == lowerIndCount)
   return pointer;

  return -1;

If this is the optimum or not im not sure. Im also not sure if this will work on very large data sets. But for the data sets i tried(both negative and positive) it worked fine. And also this has O(N) complexity as I am iterating through the array only once.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Enter the Node-Hood

So today we will explore the node neighborhood in order to see what awesome goodies lie in the node-land. Ok I am no expert artist, but I remember well when I jot down something I learn into a diagram and utter those famous words “A picture speaks a thousand words”. And of course I love to learn by adding some humor to it which again makes me remember things better. So this is my lame attempt in doing just that to introduce the world of Node to anyone who might be interested.

If you are a node pro, I will save you the time and ask you to close this tab right now… Ah so you did not close it, great, then come on in. So let us see what we will find today on node-land. Following is a picture I just drew in order to emphasize what we will focus on today.

So this is the node home as of now for me. You are greeted with a door mat which leads to the site where you can get more information on the same. And as always you can see just right to the door, there is a CD( who uses CDs nowadays, I know) which states the famous command you will encounter many a times when you are working with node.
npm install <module_name>
Add a –save to the end of the command, and it will save the module you just installed in your package.json file. More on that in the future when we discuss web development with express.
The today’s special bored in the house highlights some core modules that you will find when working with node. They include;
  •  fs
  • crypto
  • process
  • http

This is not the whole list and you will indeed find many more as we go along with the journey through nodejs.

So we have a friend inside our nodehood who is asking for a cool beer. His best friend as you can see is approaching the Node Fridge to get him one. In node land, you can ask for external elements if they are willing to expose their functionality. And this is done through the use of exports. Let us see more closely what is happening inside the Node Fridge;

var  drink = function(name){
 return "Cool "+name;

module.exports.drink = drink;

So the Node Fridge is exposing a drink function which returns any drink that is passed into it with an added coolness to the drink. Of course there is no point in the fridge having the cold drinks if no one is going to be drinking it, and hence we use a mode.exports at the end to expose this coolness to the whole world.

So his friend has to open up and drink this up. Since he requested this first from his friend, he added the following;

var beer = request('./nodefridge');

console.log("Chilling with a ”+beer.drink("beer");

As he is making the request for the drink from the same house itself, he can do as it has been highlighted in the above code. But if he was asking this from the backyard of the house, then he will need to request for the same as follows;

var beer = request('./backyard/nodefridge');

The assumption here is that the nodefridge.js is residing in the backyard directory. You can download this simple example from here and run it using node main.js.

So today we will cover how file streams work in the node world. The main point here is that node file streams work with the use of Event Emitters which is a way of notifying results as and when an event occurs. It is slightly different from callbacks where you can get partial results even if an error occurs midway through. It acts as more of a Pulish/Subscribe model as opposed to the Request/Reply  model in callbacks.

Before diving into how streaming works in Node, let us see how they actual work within this new found Event emitter paradigm. Again a little comic strip will better help you understand the interaction between the Readable Streams and Writtable Streams. And no surprises with their names where RS Dude is representing Readable Streams and WS Dude will be representing Writable Streams. Let us see how this turns out;

The story is self explanatory I believe. But if you want to go all technical, here is it in technical terms.

·         The read stream will pipe itself to the writable stream where by the writable stream will it’s write method internally.
·         As it keeps on writing, the write() method can send false which means it cannot accept any more data for the moment. At this moment, the readable stream will call it’s pause() method.
·         After the writable stream is ready again, it will call it’s drain() method and in turn the readable stream will call it’s resume() method and the data will again start flowing.
·         When the end of the stream is reached by the readable stream, it will call it’s end() method and the writable stream will call it’s end() method as well and close the stream.

I have included a sample on using readable streams which is available in the same download I mentioned earlier. You can run the examples as follows;
node readable.js
node wriestream.js

Note that before you run this, please run npm install request as this example requires this module.