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8.7 Using mdprof

The user interface of the deep profiler is a browser. To display the information contained in a deep profiling data file (which will be called unless you renamed it), start up your browser and give it a URL of the form The part should be the name of a machine with the following qualifications: it should have a web server running on it, and it should have the ‘mdprof_cgi’ program installed in the web server’s CGI program directory. (On many Linux systems, this directory is /usr/lib/cgi-bin.) The /full/path/name/ part should be the full path name of the deep profiling data file whose data you wish to explore. The name of this file must not have percent signs in it, and it must end in the suffix .data.

When you start up ‘mdprof’ using the command above, you will see a list of the usual places where you may want to start looking at the profile. Each place is represented by a link. Clicking on and following that link will give you a web page that contains both the profile information you asked for and other links, some of which present the same information in a different form and some of which lead to further information. You explore the profile by clicking on links and looking at the resulting pages.

The deep profiler can generate several kinds of pages.

The menu page

The menu page gives summary information about the profile, and the usual starting points for exploration.

Clique pages

Clique pages are the most fundamental pages of the deep profiler. Each clique page presents performance information about a clique, which is either a single procedure or a group of mutually recursive procedures, in a given ancestor context, which in turn is a list of other cliques starting with the caller of the entry point of the clique and ending with the clique of the ‘main’ predicate.

Each clique page lists the closest ancestor cliques, and then the procedures of the clique. It gives the cost of each call site in each procedure, as well as the cost of each procedure in total. These costs will be just those incurred in the given ancestor context; the costs incurred by these call sites and procedures in other ancestor contexts will be shown on other clique pages.

Procedure pages

Procedure pages give the total cost of a procedure and its call sites in all ancestor contexts.

Module pages

Module pages give the total cost of all the procedures of a module.

Module getters and setters pages

These pages identifies the getter and setter procedures in a module. Getters and setters are simply predicates and functions that contain ‘_get_’ and ‘_set_’ respectively in their names; they are usually used to access fields of data structures.

Program modules page

The program modules page gives the list of the program’s modules.

Top procedure pages

Top procedure pages identify the procedures that are most expensive as measured by various criteria.

Procedure caller pages

A procedure caller page lists the call sites, procedures, modules or cliques that call the given procedure.

When exploring a procedure’s callers, you often want only the ancestors that are at or above a certain level of abstraction. Effectively you want to draw a line through the procedures of the program, such that you are interested in the procedures on or above the line but those below the line. Since we want to exclude procedures below the line from procedure caller pages, we call this line an exclusion contour.

You can tell the deep profiler where you want to draw this line by giving it a ‘exclusion contour file’. The name of this file should be the same as the name of the deep profiling data file, but with the suffix ‘.data’ replaced with ‘.contour’. This file should consist of a sequence of lines, and each line should contain two words. The first word should be either ‘all’ or ‘internal’; the second should the name of a module. If the first word is ‘all’, then all procedures in the named module are below the exclusion contour; if the first word is ‘internal’, then all internal (non-exported) procedures in the named module are below the exclusion contour. Here is an example of an exclusion contour file.

all		bag
all		list
all		map
internal	set

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