by Robert Zaremba

Wikipedia processing. PyPy vs CPython benchmark

Lately I’ve done some data mining tasks on Wikipedia. It consist of:

  • processing enwiki-pages-articles.xml Wikipedia dump
  • storing pages and categories into mongodb
  • using redis for mapping category titles

I made a benchmark on a real tasks for CPython 2.7.3 and PyPy 2b. Libraries I used:

  • redis 2.7.2
  • pymongo 2.4.2

Furthermore CPython was supported by:

  • hiredis
  • pymongo c-extensions

The benchmark mostly involve databases processing so I fought I won’t have huge PyPy benefit (since CPython drivers are supported by C-extensions).

Below I will describe some interesting results

Extracting pagenames

I needed to make pagenames to mapping of all categories from Wikipedia and store them in redis. The simplest solution would be to import enwiki-page.sql (which defines a RDB table) into MySQL and then transport them to redis. But I didn’t want to add MySQL requirements so I wrote a simple SQL insert expression parser in pure Python and directly import data from enwiki-page.sql to redis.

This task is more CPU hungry so we expect PyPy gain.

/ time
PyPy 169.00s user 8.52s system 90% cpu
CPython 1287.13s user 8.10s system 96% cpu

I also made similar mapping for -> categories using enwiki-categorylinks.sql in Mongodb (the capacity of RAM on my laptop is too small to hold informations I need).

Filtering categories from enwiki.xml

To facilitate work with categories I needed to filter categories from enwiki-pages-articles.xml and store them back with the same xml format. For this task I used SAX parser, which in both PyPy and CPython is a wrapper around expat parser. expat is native complied package (in both PyPy and CPython).

The code is quiet simple:

class WikiCategoryHandler(handler.ContentHandler):
    """Class which detecs category pages and stores them separately
    ignored = set(('contributor', 'comment', 'meta'))

    def __init__(self, f_out):
        self.f_out = f_out
        self.curr_page = None
        self.curr_tag = ''
        self.curr_elem = Element('root', {})
        self.root = self.curr_elem
        self.stack = Stack()
        self.skip = 0

    def startElement(self, name, attrs):
        if self.skip>0 or name in self.ignored:
            self.skip += 1
        self.curr_tag = name
        elem = Element(name, attrs)
        if name == 'page':
            elem.ns = -1
            self.curr_page = elem
        else:   # we don't want to keep old pages in memory
        self.curr_elem = elem

    def endElement(self, name):
        if self.skip>0:
            self.skip -= 1
        if name == 'page':
            self.curr_page = None
        self.curr_elem =
        self.curr_tag = self.curr_elem.tag

    def characters(self, content):
        if content.isspace(): return
        if self.skip == 0:
            if self.curr_tag == 'ns':
                self.curr_page.ns = int(content)

    def startDocument(self):

    def endDocument(self):

    def task(self):
        if self.curr_page.ns == 14:

class Element(object):
    def __init__(self, tag, attrs):
        self.tag = tag
        self.attrs = attrs
        self.childrens = []
        self.append = self.childrens.append

    def __repr__(self):
        return "Element {}".format(self.tag)

    def render(self, margin=0):
        if not self.childrens:
            return u"{0}<{1}{2} />".format(
                " "*margin,
                "".join([' {}="{}"'.format(k,v) for k,v in {}.iteritems()]))
        if isinstance(self.childrens[0], TextElement) and len(self.childrens)==1:
            return u"{0}<{1}{2}>{3}</{1}>".format(
                " "*margin,
                "".join([u' {}="{}"'.format(k,v) for k,v in {}.iteritems()]),

        return u"{0}<{1}{2}>\n{3}\n{0}</{1}>".format(
            " "*margin,
            "".join([u' {}="{}"'.format(k,v) for k,v in {}.iteritems()]),
            "\n".join((c.render(margin+2) for c in self.childrens)))

class TextElement(object):
    def __init__(self, content):
        self.content = content

    def __repr__(self):
        return "TextElement"

    def render(self, margin=0):
        return self.content

The Element and TextElement objects holds information about element tag and body, and provides a method to render it.

Here I expect similar result for both PyPy and CPython.

/ time
PyPy 2169.90s
CPython 4494.69s

I’m positively surprised with PyPy result.

Computing interesting categories set

I wanted to compute a interesting categories set - which, in my use case, consist of categories derived from Computing category. For this I needed to construct a category graph which will provide category - sub categories relation.

Construction category - sub categories relation

This task uses data from mongodb and redis constructed before. The algorithms is:

for each in redis_categories (it holds * -> category title mapping*) do:
    title = redis_categories.get(
    parent_categories = mongodb get categories for title
    for each parent_cat in parent categories do:
        redis_tree.sadd(parent_cat, title) # add to parent_cat set title

Sorry for this pseudo code, but I think it looks more compact.

So this task is just copying data between databases. The result here are made after mongodb warming up (without it the results are biased because mongodb latency - the python job uses only 10% CPU) The timing is:

/ time
PyPy 175.11s user 66.11s system 64% cpu
CPython 457.92s user 72.86s system 81% cpu

Another points to PyPy.

Traversing redis_tree

If we have redis_tree database, then only thing left is to traverse all nodes which are achievable from Computing category. To preserve falling into cycle we need to remember which categories we visited. Since I want to test Python for database tasks I used redis set field for this.

/ time
PyPy 14.79s user 6.22s system 69% cpu 30.322 total
CPython 44.20s user 13.86s system 71% cpu 1:20.91 total

To be honest this task also requires constructing some tabu list - to prevent jumping into unwanted categories. But this is not a point of this article.


Presented tasks are only introduction for my final work. It requires a knowledge base which I got by extracting appropriate articles from Wikipedia.

PyPy gives me 2-3 times performance boost compared to CPython for simple data bases operations (I’m not counting sql parser here, which is almost 8x).

Thanks PyPy my work was more pleasant - I got Python productivity without frustrating with waiting for results to correct my algorithms. Moreover PyPy doesn’t kill my CPU as CPython does so in a meantime I could normally use my laptop (check % CPU time usage).

The tasks was mostly database manipulation, and CPython has some speed-up from developers contribute into dirty C-extensions. PyPy doesn’t use them and at the end is faster!

All my work required a lot of cycles so I’m really happy with PyPy.