Disclaimer / Motivation

First of all, it is important to note that this isn’t supposed to be a benchmark. The results of this test are worth what they are, it only means that PHP performed better than perl for this particular program.

For my thesis, I need to analyse large sets of data. The data is stored in the DataSeries format, which is a format developed by HP Labs specially for these type of things. I need to do several things with the data, so I created a script to do some basic analysis.

I had several options: I could write a shell script, or choose php or perl or something else instead. I realized that writing a shell script for this would be very complex, so I pondered between PHP and Perl. My feeling is that PHP is more suitable for Web and Perl is more suitable for sysadmin tasks, parsing, etc. I should choose Perl then, but my knowledge of Perl is very very basic, so I would need to learn it first. Unfortunately I am running against time, so I ended up choosing PHP since it would be very easy for me to write the script.

The test

So I wrote a first version of the PHP script. The script is not optimized whatsoever, but works as expected. The problem with a large dataset is that its parsing takes ages, and my first run took ages. I started wondering if a Perl equivalent would be a lot faster than the script I wrote, so I asked a friend to write an equivalent script in Perl. He wrote it and I ran both scripts at the same time on the same server. My friend noticed later that he had left an extra instruction in the main loop that doesn’t exist in the PHP version. Anyway, both scripts were already running so I didn’t abort the run. The results were quite surprising. The PHP version took 551m56.349s and the Perl equivalente took 712m16.792s.

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