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July 31st, 2009 - James Antill

Jul. 31st, 2009

02:47 pm - Lies, damn lies, and benchmarks

Or why I hate "quick benchmarks"...

Recently I've started to see a lot more of what I'd call "quick benchmarks", often it's to do with yum but mainly I think that's because those tend to get sent to me by multiple methods. So I thought I'd try and write down why I react so negatively/dismissively to them, how people can spot the underlying problems that annoy me and even better some advise on how you can go about doing some real benchmarks if that kind of thing interests you (but it's much more work than quick benchmarks).

The summary of the problem is that quick software benchmarking often involves taking a huge amount of differences between two applications and have a single number result. Then you compare just the numbers, and come to a conclusion. So X gets 3 and Y gets 5 for problem ABCD ... therefore Y is 66% worse than X at ABCD. Except that might be a highly misleading (or worse) conclusion, for a number of reasons:

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