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Optimizing Java by Chris Newland, James Gough, Benjamin J Evans

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Chapter 5. Microbenchmarking and Statistics

In this chapter, we will consider the specifics of measuring Java performance numbers directly. The dynamic nature of the JVM means that performance numbers are often harder to handle than many developers expect. As a result, there are a lot of inaccurate or misleading performance numbers floating around on the internet.

A primary goal of this chapter is to ensure that you are aware of these possible pitfalls and only produce performance numbers that you and others can rely upon. In particular, the measurement of small pieces of Java code (microbenchmarking) is notoriously subtle and difficult to do correctly, and this subject and its proper usage by performance engineers is a major theme throughout the chapter.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard Feynman

The second portion of the chapter describes how to use the gold standard of micro­benchmarking tools: JMH. If, even after all the warnings and caveats, you really feel that your application and use cases warrant the use of microbenchmarks, then you will avoid numerous well-known pitfalls and “bear traps” by starting with the most reliable and advanced of the available tools.

Finally, we turn to the subject of statistics. The JVM routinely produces performance numbers that require somewhat careful handling. The numbers produced by microbenchmarks are usually especially sensitive, and so it is incumbent upon the performance ...

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