Predicting Execution Time of Computer Programs Using Sparse Polynomial Regression

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Ling Huang, Jinzhu Jia, Bin Yu, Byung-gon Chun, Petros Maniatis, Mayur Naik


Predicting the execution time of computer programs is an important but challenging problem in the community of computer systems. Existing methods require experts to perform detailed analysis of program code in order to construct predictors or select important features. We recently developed a new system to automatically extract a large number of features from program execution on sample inputs, on which prediction models can be constructed without expert knowledge. In this paper we study the construction of predictive models for this problem. We propose the SPORE (Sparse POlynomial REgression) methodology to build accurate prediction models of program performance using feature data collected from program execution on sample inputs. Our two SPORE algorithms are able to build relationships between responses (e.g., the execution time of a computer program) and features, and select a few from hundreds of the retrieved features to construct an explicitly sparse and non-linear model to predict the response variable. The compact and explicitly polynomial form of the estimated model could reveal important insights into the computer program (e.g., features and their non-linear combinations that dominate the execution time), enabling a better understanding of the program’s behavior. Our evaluation on three widely used computer programs shows that SPORE methods can give accurate prediction with relative error less than 7% by using a moderate number of training data samples. In addition, we compare SPORE algorithms to state-of-the-art sparse regression algorithms, and show that SPORE methods, motivated by real applications, outperform the other methods in terms of both interpretability and prediction accuracy.