Posts Tagged With 'Project Euler'

Lessons in Efficiency

Written by Tracy Poff in misc on Fri 17 August 2012. Tags: Haskell, Project Euler,

I was working on Project Euler problem 92, and having a great deal of trouble making my program run fast enough. I’m aware of a trick that can be used to reduce the problem space, but I thought that with only ten million numbers to check, it should be possible to do it straightforwardly and just check them all, as long as I wasn’t too inefficient doing it.

My first successful version took about three minutes to run–much too slow. I eliminated a duplicate call to an expensive function, which brought me down to about two minutes, and at length I managed to reduce the runtime down to about thirty seconds–much better, though still very slow. I tried some alternate techniques and just couldn’t make it go any quicker while still using a brute force approach.

Now, there’s one important thing I haven’t mentioned: on the Windows PC I’m using for development, the version of gcc included with the Haskell Platform doesn’t work. I can’t figure out why, but it makes it impossible to compile Haskell programs, so I’ve just been running them in the interpreter. Well, that gives away the ending to this anecdote: I copied the program to a (much slower) Linux PC and compiled it, and it ran in about five seconds. Even my first, very inefficient attempt would have been fast enough to satisfy the one minute rule. But I learned a bit by trying to make the interpreted version fast enough to pass.


  1. Squaring a number with (n^2) is significantly slower than doing it with (n * n).
  2. Arrays are faster to access than even fairly small lists.
  3. It’s faster to compose several functions and then map them to a list than to repeatedly map individual functions.

Of course, these apply to programs run through the interpreter–it’s quite possible that at least the first of these might not hold if the program is compiled. Maybe I’ll test it, some time.