PDQ: Pretty Damn Quick\Performance Analyzer

PDQ: Pretty Damn Quick
Performance Analyzer

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From the performance standpoint, modern computer systems can be thought of as a network of buffers where requests wait for service at shared computational resources. Since a buffer is a queue, all computer systems can be represented as a network of queues. PDQ computes the performance metrics of such a network.

1  What is PDQ?

PDQ (Pretty Damn Quick) is a downloadable free open source software package that comes with an online User Manual.
It is a standalone application that is closely associated with the books Analyzing Computer System Performance with Perl::PDQ (Springer 2005, 20011) and The Practical Performance Analyst (McGraw-Hill 1998, iUniverse.com Press 2000) and Guerrilla training classes.
PDQ uses queue-theoretic paradigms to represent and solve all kinds of modern computer systems.
Computer system resources (whether hardware and software) are represented by queues (more formally, a queueing network-not to be confused with a data network-which could be a PDQ queueing model) and the queueing model is solved "analytically" (meaning via a combination of algorithmic and numerical procedures). Queues are invoked as functions in PDQ by making calls to the appropriate library functions (listed below 3). Once the queueing model is expressed in PDQ, it can be solved almost instantaneously by calling the PDQ_Solve() function. This in turn generates a report of all the corresponding performance metrics such as: system throughput, and system response time, as well as details about queue lengths and utilizations at each of the defined queues.
This algorithmic solution technique makes it orders of magnitude faster than setting up (and debugging; a step that is often not mentioned by simulationists) and running repeated (another step that is often glossed over) experiments to see if the solutions are statistically meaningful. PDQ solves everything as though it were in steady state. The tradeoff is that you cannot computer higher order statistics. (Actually, you can but that would be major digression here. Come to a class to find out more about that).

2  System Requirements

Analytic solvers are generally faster than simulators and this makes it ideal for the Performance-by-Design methodology described in the book. As part of its suite of solution methods, PDQ incorporates MVA (Mean Value Analysis) techniques (see Chapters 2 and 3 for details). PDQ is not a hardwired application constrained to run only on certain personal computers. Instead, PDQ is provided as open source, written in the C language, to enable it to be used in the environment of your choice—from laptop to cloud. Moreover, PDQ is not a stand-alone application but a library of functions for solving performance models expressed as circuits or networks of queues. This also means that PDQ is available in a number of popular programming languages including C, Perl, Python and more recently, the R statistical language.
All the examples described throughout the book, Analyzing Computer System Performance with Perl::PDQ, are constructed using this paradigm in Perl. Setting up a PDQ model is really very straightforward, as demonstrated by the M/M/1 example below in Section 4. For those readers not yet familiar with the C language, PDQ offers another motivation to learn it. Many excellent introductory texts on the C language are also available.

3  PDQ Library Functions

Some of the PDQ library functions are grouped here in order of most frequent invocation:
Init() Initializes all internal PDQ variables. Must be called prior to any other PDQ function.
CreateOpen() Defines the characteristics of a workload in an open-circuit queueing model.
CreateClosed() Defines the characteristics of a workload in a closed-circuit queueing model.
CreateNode() Defines a single queueing-center in either a closed or open circuit queueing model.
SetDemand() Defines the service demand of a specific workload at a specified node.
SetVisits() Define the service demand in terms of the service time and visit count.
SetDebug() enables diagnostic printout of PDQ internal variables.
Solve() The solution method must be passed as an argument.
GetResponse() Returns the system response time for the specified workload.
GetThruput() Returns the system throughput for the specified workload.
GetUtilization() Returns the utilization of the designated queueing node by the specified workload.
Report() Generates a formatted report containing system, and node level performance measures.
A complete listing of all the PDQ functions is available in the online User Manual.

4  A Simple PDQ Example

An elementary but instructive example of a PDQ performance model is shown in Figure 1. There, "customers" coming in from the left, to receive some kind of service (at the "server") after which they depart the system. Since other customers may already be waiting ahead of the newly arriving customers, a queue forms.
Figure 1: The components of an M/M/1 queue

The term "customer" is part of historical queueing parlence and might actually represent such things as: Accordingly, the "server" might represent In queueing theory, this is known as an M/M/1 queue, meaning that both arrival and service periods are "Memoryless" or "M" (i.e., completely random in time) and there is only one server. Now, let's calculate the properties of the M/M/1 queue by hand. To do this, we need to recall the relevant mathematical relations for the M/M/1 queue.

4.1  M/M/1 Formulae

It is more convenient to think in terms of inputs and outputs. In other words, which parameters do we need to provide to the formulae versus those values we will calculate as the result of applying the formulae? We list them here:
The Greek letters are part of the historical baggage in queueing theory and used in almost every textbook on the subject. There's no point trying to fight that now.
Figure 2: PDQ parameters for characterizing the M/M/1 queue in Fig. 1
The throughtput, X, coming out of the server is the same as the arrival rate, λ coming into the queue because it is assumed to be in steady state. This point it discussed at length in Analyzing Computer System Performance with Perl::PDQ
With these input parameters we can calculate all other performance quantities (outputs) of interest.
Outputs: To apply these relationships, we need to choose some values for λ and S. We choose the following values so as to keep the arithmetic simple.
  1. The average arrival rate: λ = 0.5 customers per second.
  2. The average service time: S = 1.0 second.
Then, the resulting queueing characteristics can be calculated using the above formulae.
  1. R = 1.0 /(1 − 0.5 * 1.0) = 2.0 seconds.
  2. ρ = 0.5 or 50%.
  3. Q = 0.5 * 2.0 = 1.0 customers.
  4. W = 2.0 − 0.5 = 1.5 seconds.
For more realistic performance models we can combine a flow of "customers" between many different types pf queues; some like this one and others that are even more complex. Such calculations become extremely tedious and error-prone when you try to do them by hand. That's where PDQ comes in.

4.2  PDQ Model in Perl

In PDQ, the simple M/M/1 performance model described above would be coded in Perl as follows:

use pdq;

# Globals
$arrivRate = 0.75;
$servTime  = 1.0;

# Initialize PDQ and add a comment about the model
pdq::Init("Open Network with M/M/1");
pdq::SetComment("This is just a very simple example.");

# Define the workload and circuit type
pdq::CreateOpen("Work", $arrivRate);

# Define the queueing center
pdq::CreateNode("Server", $pdq::CEN, $pdq::FCFS);  

# Define service demand due to workload on the queueing center
pdq::SetDemand("Server", "Work", $servTime);

# Change units labels to suit

# Solve the model
#  Must use the Canonical method for an open network

# Generate a generic performance report

This might look like a lot of code for such a simple model, but realize that most of the code is for initialization and other set-up. When amortized over more realistic computer models, that becomes a much smaller fraction of the total code. Note also, that additional comment lines have been included to assist you in reading this particular model. In general, after some practice, you won't need those in every model.

4.3  PDQ Report

The corresponding standard PDQ report summarizes all the input parameters for the PDQ model, then outputs all the computed performance metrics.

                        PRETTY DAMN QUICK REPORT         
               ***  on   Mon Sep  7 17:19:18 2015     ***
               ***  for  Open Network with M/M/1      ***
               ***  PDQ  Version 6.2.0 Build 082015   ***

COMMENT: This is just a very simple example.

               ********    PDQ Model INPUTS      ********

WORKLOAD Parameters:

Node Sched Resource   Workload   Class     Demand
---- ----- --------   --------   -----     ------
  1  FCFS  Server     Work       Open      1.0000

Queueing Circuit Totals
Streams:   1
Nodes:     1

Arrivals       per Secs      Demand 
--------       --------     -------
Work           0.7500        1.0000

               ********   PDQ Model OUTPUTS      ********

Solution Method: CANON

               ********   SYSTEM Performance     ********

Metric                     Value    Unit
------                     -----    ----
Workload: "Work"
Number in system          3.0000    Cust
Mean throughput           0.7500    Cust/Secs
Response time             4.0000    Secs
Stretch factor            4.0000

Bounds Analysis:
Max throughput            1.0000    Cust/Secs
Min response              1.0000    Secs

               ********   RESOURCE Performance   ********

Metric          Resource     Work              Value   Unit
------          --------     ----              -----   ----
Capacity        Server       Work                  1   Servers
Throughput      Server       Work             0.7500   Cust/Secs
In service      Server       Work             0.7500   Cust
Utilization     Server       Work            75.0000   Percent
Queue length    Server       Work             3.0000   Cust
Waiting line    Server       Work             2.2500   Cust
Waiting time    Server       Work             3.0000   Secs
Residence time  Server       Work             4.0000   Secs

We see that the PDQ results are in complete agreement with those previously calculated by hand using the M/M/1 formulae 4.1. A more detailed discussion is presented in Chapter 8 of Analyzing Computer System Performance with Perl::PDQ.
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