About half a year ago I wrote about dqsample providing a bias free alternative to `base::sample()`

. Meanwhile this is mostly of historic interest, since the upcomming R release 3.6.0 will see an updated sampling algorithm. However, some of the techniques used in dqsample are now part of dqrng. Of course, the sampling method is still free of the previously described bias:

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m <- 2/5 * 2^32 x <- dqrng::dqsample(floor(m), 1000000, replace = TRUE) plot(density(x[x %% 2 == 0]), main = "dqrng::dqsample", xlab = NA) lines(density(x[x %% 2 == 1]), col = "#FF8F00") |

This most recent version of dqrng is not on CRAN yet, but you can install it via drat:

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if (!requireNamespace("drat", quietly = TRUE)) install.packages("drat") drat::addRepo("daqana") install.packages("dqrng") |

Overall we will see that it is possible to improve on R’s sampling speed without compromising statistical qualities. Feedback is always welcome!

# Benchmarks

The following benchmarks were made with R version 3.5.3 (2019-03-11) running under Debian GNU/Linux 9 (stretch) on a Intel® Core™ i7-6600U CPU @ 2.60GHz. YMMV, as always with benchmarks …

By combining fast RNGs with fast methods for creating integers in a range one gets good performance for sampling with replacement:

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library(dqrng) m <- 1e6 n <- 1e4 bm <- bench::mark(sample.int(m, n, replace = TRUE), sample.int(1e4*m, n, replace = TRUE), dqsample.int(m, n, replace = TRUE), dqsample.int(1e4*m, n, replace = TRUE), check = FALSE) knitr::kable(bm[, 1:6]) |

expression | min | mean | median | max | itr/sec |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

sample.int(m, n, replace = TRUE) | 94.9µs | 112.5µs | 112.2µs | 3.78ms | 8886.863 |

sample.int(10000 * m, n, replace = TRUE) | 170.9µs | 202.8µs | 200.9µs | 3.08ms | 4930.094 |

dqsample.int(m, n, replace = TRUE) | 31.5µs | 36.2µs | 35.7µs | 183.63µs | 27596.508 |

dqsample.int(10000 * m, n, replace = TRUE) | 35.7µs | 41.3µs | 39.8µs | 3.06ms | 24186.338 |

1 2 |
plot(bm) |

Note that sampling from `10^10`

integers triggers “long-vector support” in R.

When sampling *without* replacement one has to consider an appropriate algorithm for making sure that no entry is repeated. When more than 50% of the population are sampled, dqrng shuffles an appropriate part of the full list and returns that. The algorithm used in R is similar but dqrng has the edge with respect to performance:

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library(dqrng) m <- 1e6 n <- 6e5 bm <- bench::mark(sample.int(m, n), dqsample.int(m, n), check = FALSE, min_iterations = 50) knitr::kable(bm[, 1:6]) |

expression | min | mean | median | max | itr/sec |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

sample.int(m, n) | 11.91ms | 14.09ms | 13.02ms | 26.11ms | 70.98544 |

dqsample.int(m, n) | 6.93ms | 8.22ms | 8.17ms | 9.99ms | 121.65317 |

1 2 |
plot(bm) |

For lower sampling ratios a set based rejection sampling algorithm is used by dqrng. In principle, R can make use of a similar algorithm based on a hashset. However, it is only used for larger input vectors even though it is faster than the default method. The algorithm in dqrng, which is based on a bitset, is even faster, though:

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library(dqrng) m <- 1e6 n <- 1e4 bm <- bench::mark(sample.int(m, n), sample.int(m, n, useHash = TRUE), dqsample.int(m, n), check = FALSE) knitr::kable(bm[, 1:6]) |

expression | min | mean | median | max | itr/sec |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

sample.int(m, n) | 788µs | 1.72ms | 1.87ms | 5.01ms | 583.0849 |

sample.int(m, n, useHash = TRUE) | 229µs | 269.6µs | 266.15µs | 453.71µs | 3709.2196 |

dqsample.int(m, n) | 113µs | 130.4µs | 129.49µs | 2.98ms | 7668.6069 |

1 2 |
plot(bm) |

As one decreases the sampling rate even more, dqrng switches to a hashset based rejection sampling. Both hashset based methods have similar performance and are much faster than R’s default method.

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library(dqrng) m <- 1e6 n <- 1e2 bm <- bench::mark(sample.int(m, n), sample.int(m, n, useHash = TRUE), dqsample.int(m, n), check = FALSE) knitr::kable(bm[, 1:6]) |

expression | min | mean | median | max | itr/sec |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

sample.int(m, n) | 452.72µs | 1.29ms | 1.56ms | 4.69ms | 777.0096 |

sample.int(m, n, useHash = TRUE) | 3.98µs | 5.38µs | 5.03µs | 62.94µs | 185978.0662 |

dqsample.int(m, n) | 3.59µs | 4.14µs | 4.05µs | 26.85µs | 241454.9528 |

1 2 |
plot(bm) |

For larger sampling ranges R uses the hashset by default, though `dqsample.int`

is still faster:

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library(dqrng) m <- 1e10 n <- 1e5 bm <- bench::mark(sample.int(m, n), dqsample.int(m, n), check = FALSE) knitr::kable(bm[, 1:6]) |

expression | min | mean | median | max | itr/sec |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

sample.int(m, n) | 5.3ms | 5.79ms | 5.48ms | 9.5ms | 172.7915 |

dqsample.int(m, n) | 1.7ms | 2.04ms | 1.97ms | 5.08ms | 490.8562 |

1 2 |
plot(bm) |

# Details

The following methods are used for sampling without replacement. The algorithms are presented in R-like pseudocode, even though the real implementation is in C++. For sampling rates above 50%, a partial Fisher-Yates shuffle is used:

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no_replace_shuffle <- function(m, n) { tmp <- seq_len(m) for (i in seq_len(n)) swap(tmp[i], tmp[i + random_int(m-i)]) tmp[1:n] } |

where `random_int(m-i)`

returns a random integer in `[0, m-i]`

. Since the full population is kept in memory, this method is only suitable for high selection rates. One could expect that reservoir sampling should work well for lower selection rates. However, in my tests set based algorithms were faster:

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no_replace_set <- function(m, n) { result <- vector(mode = "...", length = n) # integer or numeric elems <- new(set, m, n) # set object for storing n objects out of m possible values for (i in seq_len(n)) while (TRUE) { v = random_int(m) if (elems.insert(v)) { result[i] = v break } } result } |

Here `elems.insert(v)`

returns `TRUE`

if the insert was successful, i.e. `v`

was not in `elems`

before, and `FALSE`

otherwise. There are different strategies for implementing such a set. For intermediate sampling rates (currently between 0.1% and 50%) dqrng uses a bitset, i.e. a vector of `m`

bits each representing one of the possible values. For lower sampling rates the memory usage of this algorithm is to expensive, which is why a hashset^{1} is used, since there the used memory scales with `n`

and not with `m`

. One could expect that Robert Floyd’s sampling algorithm would be superior, but this was not the case in my tests, probably because it requires a final shuffling of the result to get a random *permutation* instead of a random *combination*.

- For the specialists: Open addressing with a power-of-two size between 1.5 and 3 times
`n`

, identity hash function for the stored integers and quadratic probing.