Actionscript – For VS Foreach on Array performance (in AS3/Flex)

actionscriptactionscript-3apache-flexflashperformance

Which one is faster? Why?

var messages:Array = [.....]

// 1 - for
var len:int = messages.length;
for (var i:int = 0; i < len; i++) {
    var o:Object = messages[i];
    // ...
}

// 2 - foreach
for each (var o:Object in messages) {
    // ...
}

Best Answer

From where I'm sitting, regular for loops are moderately faster than for each loops in the minimal case. Also, as with AS2 days, decrementing your way through a for loop generally provides a very minor improvement.

But really, any slight difference here will be dwarfed by the requirements of what you actually do inside the loop. You can find operations that will work faster or slower in either case. The real answer is that neither kind of loop can be meaningfully said to be faster than the other - you must profile your code as it appears in your application.

Sample code:

var size:Number = 10000000;
var arr:Array = [];
for (var i:int=0; i<size; i++) { arr[i] = i; }
var time:Number, o:Object;

// for()
time = getTimer();
for (i=0; i<size; i++) { arr[i]; }
trace("for test: "+(getTimer()-time)+"ms");

// for() reversed
time = getTimer();
for (i=size-1; i>=0; i--) { arr[i]; }
trace("for reversed test: "+(getTimer()-time)+"ms");

// for..in
time = getTimer();
for each(o in arr) { o; }
trace("for each test: "+(getTimer()-time)+"ms");

Results:

for test: 124ms
for reversed test: 110ms
for each test: 261ms

Edit: To improve the comparison, I changed the inner loops so they do nothing but access the collection value.

Edit 2: Answers to oshyshko's comment:

  1. The compiler could skip the accesses in my internal loops, but it doesn't. The loops would exit two or three times faster if it was.
  2. The results change in the sample code you posted because in that version, the for loop now has an implicit type conversion. I left assignments out of my loops to avoid that. Of course one could argue that it's okay to have an extra cast in the for loop because "real code" would need it anyway, but to me that's just another way of saying "there's no general answer; which loop is faster depends on what you do inside your loop". Which is the answer I'm giving you. ;)