Quoth Patrick Totzke on May 28 at  9:58 am:
> Excerpts from Austin Clements's message of Fri May 27 20:29:24 +0100 2011:
> > On Fri, May 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM, Patrick Totzke
> > <patricktot...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> > > Excerpts from Austin Clements's message of Fri May 27 03:41:44 +0100 2011:
> > >> >> > > Have you tried simply calling list() on your thread
> > >> >> > > iterator to see how expensive it is?  My bet is that it's quite 
> > >> >> > > cheap,
> > >> >> > > both memory-wise and CPU-wise.
> > >> >> > Funny thing:
> > >> >> >  q=Database().create_query('*')
> > >> >> >  time tlist = list(q.search_threads())
> > >> >> > raises a NotmuchError(STATUS.NOT_INITIALIZED) exception. For some 
> > >> >> > reason
> > >> >> > the list constructor must read mere than once from the iterator.
> > >> >> > So this is not an option, but even if it worked, it would show
> > >> >> > the same behaviour as my above test..
> > >> >>
> > >> >> Interesting.  Looks like the Threads class implements __len__ and that
> > >> >> its implementation exhausts the iterator.  Which isn't a great idea in
> > >> >> itself, but it turns out that Python's implementation of list() calls
> > >> >> __len__ if it's available (presumably to pre-size the list) before
> > >> >> iterating over the object, so it exhausts the iterator before even
> > >> >> using it.
> > >> >>
> > >> >> That said, if list(q.search_threads()) did work, it wouldn't give you
> > >> >> better performance than your experiment above.
> > > true. Nevertheless I think that list(q.search_threads())
> > > should be equivalent to [t for t in q.search_threads()], which is
> > > something to be fixed in the bindings. Should I file an issue somehow?
> > > Or is enough to state this as a TODO here on the list?
> > 
> > Yes, they should be equivalent.
> > 
> > Sebastian was thinking about fixing the larger issue of generator
> > exhaustion, which would address this, though the performance would
> > depend on the cost of iterating twice.  This is why generators
> > shouldn't support __len__.  Unfortunately, it's probably hard to get
> > rid of at this point and I doubt there's a way to tell list() to
> > overlook the presence of a __len__ method.
> Why not simply removing support for __len__ in the Threads and Messages 
> classes?

Presumably len is there because things use it.  On the other hand,
given the issues surrounding len, I suspect anything that's using it
is already a mess.

> > >> >> > would it be very hard to implement a Query.search_thread_ids() ?
> > >> >> > This name is a bit off because it had to be done on a lower level.
> > >> >>
> > >> >> Lazily fetching the thread metadata on the C side would probably
> > >> >> address your problem automatically.  But what are you doing that
> > >> >> doesn't require any information about the threads you're manipulating?
> > >> > Agreed. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to get a list of thread
> > >> > ids or a reliable iterator thereof by using the current python 
> > >> > bindings.
> > >> > It would be enough for me to have the ids because then I could
> > >> > search for the few threads I actually need individually on demand.
> > >>
> > >> There's no way to do that from the C API either, so don't feel left
> > >> out.  ]:--8)  It seems to me that the right solution to your problem
> > >> is to make thread information lazy (effectively, everything gathered
> > >> in lib/thread.cc:_thread_add_message).  Then you could probably
> > >> materialize that iterator cheaply.
> > > Alright. I'll put this on my mental notmuch wish list and
> > > hope that someone will have addressed this before I run out of
> > > ideas how to improve my UI and have time to look at this myself.
> > > For now, I go with the [t.get_thread_id for t in q.search_threads()]
> > > approach to cache the thread ids myself and live with the fact that
> > > this takes time for large result sets.
> > >
> > >> In fact, it's probably worth
> > >> trying a hack where you put dummy information in the thread object
> > >> from _thread_add_message and see how long it takes just to walk the
> > >> iterator (unfortunately I don't think profiling will help much here
> > >> because much of your time is probably spent waiting for I/O).
> > > I don't think I understand what you mean by dummy info in a thread
> > > object.
> > 
> > In _thread_add_message, rather than looking up the message's author,
> > subject, etc, just hard-code some dummy values.  Performance-wise,
> > this would simulate making the thread metadata lookup lazy, so you
> > could see if making this lazy would address your problem.
> Thanks for the clarification. I did that, and also commented out the
> lower parts of _notmuch_thread_create and this did indeed improve
> the performance, but not so much as I had hoped:
> 
> In [10]: q=Database().create_query('*')
> In [11]: time T=[t for t in q.search_threads()]
> CPU times: user 2.43 s, sys: 0.22 s, total: 2.65 s
> Wall time: 2.66 s
> 
> And I have only about 8000 mails in my index.
> Making thread lookups lazy would help, but here one would still
> create a lot of unused (empty) thread objects.
> The easiest solution to my problem would in my opinion be
> a function that queries only for thread ids without instanciating them.
> But I can't think of any other use case than mine for this
> so I guess many of you would be against adding this to the API?

Well, you may be in a pickle.  I seriously doubt creating the thread
objects is your problem, though *expanding* the threads may be your
main expense now.  I'd recommend actual profiling at this point.

It may be possible to lazily expand threads, too.  I'm not sure how
familiar you are with the C code for this.  notmuch does *not* index
threads; it indexes individual messages.  When you do a thread query,
it finds all *messages* that match that query, and then, for each
message, it does another query to find all messages in the same
thread.  You might be able to do just the original message query
eagerly (which takes virtually no time) and then do the thread
expansion queries only as the iterator demands them.  You may
encounter concurrency issues with a scheme like this, though as long
as notmuch can't split threads, I think it would be okay.
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