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Re: st: how to parallelize Mata (or steal the performance of built-in -tab, summarize-)

From   Nick Cox <>
Subject   Re: st: how to parallelize Mata (or steal the performance of built-in -tab, summarize-)
Date   Mon, 2 Apr 2012 20:36:52 +0100

We are back to the questions you asked a week ago. Mostly this is for
StataCorp. Otherwise please see again my answers at

I've had dramatic speed-ups with Mata -- my record is reducing
execution time from 5 days to 2 minutes, but that was partly because
my original code was so dumb -- but I've not tried anything like the
stuff you were using.

-tabulate, summarize- is compiled C code. I think the nearest you can
get is by using -by:- as explained in the post just quoted.


2012/4/2 László Sándor <>:
> Hi all,
> I had several questions recently on this list about compiling Mata
> code. I still could not deal with generating the compile time locals
> with loops, but I typed them out and compiled. Now I had my test runs
> but they are surprising. Let me ask you why:
> My basic problem was to do a fast "collapse" to make binned scatter
> plots. Collapse was unacceptably slow, probably because of the
> necessary preserve-restore cycles, or inefficient coding of collapse
> (for its general purpose).
> I already had a version that parsed a log of -tabulate, summarize-.
> Yes, it is as much of a hack as it sounds like. I was not expecting
> this to be fast, at least because of the file I/O and the parsing.
> Now I built a Mata function that "collapses" into new variables with
> leaving the data intact otherwise. For this I used Ben Jann's
> -mf_mm_collapse-, and compiled all the necessary functions myself in
> the ado file.
> And the test run with 100 million observations told me it was slower
> than the hack. Before I give up and claim the hack unbeatable, I have
> one suspicion. I had the test run on Stata 12 MP on a cluster, with 12
> cores. Perhaps -tabulate- used all of them, and my code did not.
> Are there guidelines how to speed up Mata in this situation (if it is
> not MP-aware to begin with?).
> Or, tentatively, can I ask for some guidance about the magic of
> -tabulate, summarize-? Is that magic accessible/reproducible without
> just logging its output?
> Thanks,
> Laszlo
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