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# System Clock

Hi,

I need to be able to measure a time interval in milliseconds on a windows
machine. I have tried using time.clock() but it appears to measure time in
seconds...Is there a way to measure time more precisely?

Regards,

James Harriman
v3***@unb.ca
Jul 18 '05 #1
3 6578

"James Harriman" <v3***@unb.ca> wrote in message
news:9S*******************@ursa-nb00s0.nbnet.nb.ca...
Hi,

I need to be able to measure a time interval in milliseconds on a windows machine. I have tried using time.clock() but it appears to measure time in seconds...Is there a way to measure time more precisely?

For floats, what matters is the resolution (precision), not the unit.
On AMDK2-385, Win 98:
a=time.clock(); time.sleep(1); print time.clock()-a 1.01412863105 # correct, seconds
time.clock()-time.clock() -3.0171474548978949e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -3.1847667571582861e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -3.100957104607005e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -2.933337799504443e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -3.0171474577400659e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -3.100957104607005e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -3.1009571102913469e-005 time.clock()-time.clock() -2.9333378051887848e-005

This is reproducibly .03+ milleseconds (minus because earlier - later)
== 30 microseconds.

Now speed up a bit: tc = time.clock
tc()-tc() -2.8495281526375038e-005 tc()-tc() -2.7657185000862228e-005 tc()-tc() -3.017147452055724e-005 tc()-tc() -2.6819088532192836e-005 tc()-tc() -2.8495281526375038e-005 tc()-tc() -2.7657185000862228e-005 tc()-tc() -2.8495281526375038e-005 tc()-tc() -2.7657185000862228e-005 tc()-tc() -2.7657185000862228e-005

The average is about 28 microsecs, so time.clock lookup appears to be
measurebly about 1 microsecond, but anything much smaller would be
lost in the noise on this system.

(Oddly, I also get this: tc()-tc(); tc()-tc()

-2.84952814126882e-005
-1.4247640820030938e-005
which I have not figured out yet)

Terry J. Reedy

Jul 18 '05 #2
On Fri, Nov 07, 2003 at 12:40:37AM +0000, James Harriman wrote:
Hi,

I need to be able to measure a time interval in milliseconds on a windows
machine. I have tried using time.clock() but it appears to measure time in
seconds...Is there a way to measure time more precisely?

From http://www.python.org/doc/lib/module-time.html

clock()
On Unix, return the current processor time as a floating point number
expressed in seconds. The precision, and in fact the very definition of the
meaning of `processor time'' , depends on that of the C function of the same
name, but in any case, this is the function to use for benchmarking Python
or timing algorithms.

On Windows, this function returns wall-clock seconds elapsed since the
first call to this function, as a floating point number, based on the Win32
function QueryPerformanceCounter(). The resolution is typically better than
one microsecond.

time()
Return the time as a floating point number expressed in seconds since
the epoch, in UTC. Note that even though the time is always returned as a
floating point number, not all systems provide time with a better precision
than 1 second. While this function normally returns non-decreasing values,
it can return a lower value than a previous call if the system clock has
been set back between the two calls.

Jp

Jul 18 '05 #3
On Thu, Nov 06, 2003 at 10:47:19PM -0500, Terry Reedy wrote:

[snip]

(Oddly, I also get this:
tc()-tc(); tc()-tc() -2.84952814126882e-005
-1.4247640820030938e-005
which I have not figured out yet)

I think this indicates there is more than one cost path down into the timing
machinery. Consider:
time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time();time()-time()

-3.9339065551757812e-06
-9.5367431640625e-07
0.0
-1.0728836059570312e-06
-1.0728836059570312e-06
-1.0728836059570312e-06
-9.5367431640625e-07
-9.5367431640625e-07
0.0
0.0

It appears to me as though making subsequent calls to time.time() in rapid
succession allows one to exploit an optimization somewhere.

Perhaps some hardware-level caching?

Jp

Jul 18 '05 #4

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