New Garbage Collection Mitigation Strategy
I spent some time working on a system to pool frequently used objects in an attempt to mitigate the first round garbage collection problem my robot suffers from. My first attempt had some merit, but the changes involved are a lot more significant than I would like. I'm just not happy with it.
Recently, however, I came up with another idea that may be much simpler and effective. However, I still need to test out the idea. Instead of managing object pools, what if I just dump old objects into a "waste basket" that hangs onto those objects and releases them at a controlled pace -- probably slowly at first and releasing them faster as the rounds progress and the waste basket begins to fill up. Or perhaps empty the waste basket at safe times, like the end of a round or at times when XanderCat has a solid advantage already. This would use more memory overall but may be far simpler and less error prone. I'm going to sideline my prior pooled objects work and try this route for XanderCat 12.7.
Sounds like it has potential, but isn't your primary GC issue at the very beginning of the match? Or did we already conclude that was intractable?
That might work, but I have my doubts. Unless you're calling System.GC() all the time it seems likely that the garbage collector will wait for a bunch to pile up and do it in bursts regardless of how controlled of a pace you release your references at (and calling System.GC() all the time would also likely cause it's own issues). I'd say the real solution needs to involve just plain not using so many tiny objects in the first place.
(It's kind of one of my pet peeves about Java, that the language encourages extensive object use, yet if you use it "too extensively" the code will have performance issues to due excessive allocation/deallocation overhead. In some languages (such as C++) one has the option of combining multiple objects into the same block of allocation, but because all object instances are references in Java there's no such luxury, ironically meaning that high performance java code needs to use simpler/fewer OOP structures than high performance C++ code in order to match the performance)
Also a pet peeve of mine about Robocode at this point. It has a really strict time limit per turn with a programming language that doesn't give you much control at that small of a scope. And even if it did, a rolling average would be soooo much nicer, and skipped turns are such a burden to deal with.
Automated garbage collection is about getting the job done faster/cheaper. Machine code always has more potential for performance than any language and/or paradigm. But in practice, due to overwhelming complexity issues, lower level languages tend to deliver worse software overall.
If you want high performance Java, increase the size of the heap, and/or change the ratio between regions, which solves 99% of garbage collection issues.
We could make it standard in RoboRumble to have a heap optimized for real-time. Using "-Xmn511m -Xmx512m" or "-Xmn1023m -Xmx1024m" in roborumble.bat would do the job very well. Not as fun as programmatic object pooling systems though.