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Javascript iterators and generator functions are slow!

costinmanda profile image Costin Manda Originally published at siderite.dev on ・2 min read

Original post: https://siderite.dev/blog/javascript-iterators-and-generator-functions-slow

So I was trying to optimize a sorting algorithm, only the metrics did not make any sense. On the test page I had amazing performance, on the other it was slow as hell. What could possibly be the problem?

The difference between the two tests was that one was sorting inline (normal array reading and writing) and the other was using a more complex function and iterated a data source. So I went to test the performance of iterating itself.

The code tests the speed of adding all the items of a large array in three cases:

  • a classic for...in loop that increments an index and reads the array at that index
  • a for...of loop that iterates the items of the array directly
  • a for...of loop that iterates over a generator function that yields the values of the array
time(()=>{ let sum=0; for (let i=0; i<arr.length; i++) sum+=arr[i]; },'for in');
time(()=>{ let sum=0; for (const v of arr) sum+=v; },'iterator for of');
time(()=>{ let sum=0; for (const v of (function*(){ for (let i=0; i<arr.length; i++) yield arr[i]; })()) sum+=v; },'generator for of');
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time is a function I used to compute the speed of the execution. The array is 100 million integers. And here are the results:

for in: 155.12999997008592

for of: 1105.7250000303611

for of: 2309.88499999512

I haven't yet processed what it means, but I really thought using an iterator was going to be at least as fast as a for loop that uses index accessing to read values. Instead there is a whooping 7 to 14 times decrease in speed.

So from now on I will avoid for...of in high performance scenarios.

Discussion (1)

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pouja profile image
Pouja

Which makes sense right. You are pausing and resuming the generator, which introduces the overhead in time.

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