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Visual Basic Array Speeds

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An interesting concept is how to store a dynamic array. The best dynamic array would optimally take the least amount of space, be the fastest array possible, and be as efficient as possible. I quickly did an investigation in 2003 into the speed of creating dynamic arrays a different number of ways, all in Visual Basic 6.

My results for inserting 25000 new strings into arrays were as follows:

Fixed size array: 0.148 sec
Stepped dynamic array: 0.164 sec
Collection: 0.234 sec
Incremental dynamic array: 1.664 sec

An "incremental" dynamic array was one which is redimensioned every new item, and a "stepped" dynamic array is one whose size doubles when it's appropriate. Experience tells that the stepped version is significantly faster than the incremental version; in practice, it may be better to only increase the array size by 10-30% every step, to reduce memory use.

I did not use any wild optimisations, and did not take into account other factors like the actual memory size used. It's interesting to see that using a Collection, a really flexible array type that can store Objects and Classes, is quite fast (not as fast as the array methods of course, but that's to be expected).

The code I used for each benchmark is provided below.

Function BenchmarkArray(n)
Dim b()
ReDim b(0 To n)
For i = 0 To UBound(b)
    b(i) = "some string"
Next
End Function

Function BenchmarkCollection(n)
Dim c As Collection
Set c = New Collection
For i = 0 To n
    c.Add "some string"
Next
End Function

Function BenchmarkDynamic(n)
Dim b()
ReDim b(0)
For i = 0 To n
    ReDim Preserve b(i)
    b(i) = "some string"
Next
End Function

Function BenchmarkDynamic2(n)
Dim b()
ReDim b(0)
For i = 0 To n
    If i > UBound(b) Then
        ReDim Preserve b(UBound(b) * 2 + 1)
    End If
    b(i) = "some string"
Next
End Function
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Last edited by jevon jevon 151 months ago