jaicore-experiments is an AILibs library








jaicore-experiments is a macro benchmarking library for conducting parameterizable, parallel and persistent performance measures aiming to be reproducible.


Add the dependency to jaicore-experiments in your favourite build tool, via:




dependencies {
    implementation 'ai.libs:jaicore-experiments:0.2.4'


To use this library, the client must provide the following three components:


DB connection config

Define the SQL database connection as properties in a configuration file:

db.driver = mysql
db.host = <database host>
db.username = <database user name>
db.password = <database password of the user name>
db.database = <database name>
db.ssl = true
db.table = <result table>

MySql is the database implementation that is supported and used in this project by the maintainers. Specifically, version 5.7.28 is used internally.

db.host, db.username and db.password depend on the configuration of your database. Test these properties with the following command. Make sure to replace the keys with the properties defined in the configuration. If the mysql console can be seen, then the properties are legal.

mysql -h <db.host> -u <db.username> -p<db.password> 
>Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with \; or \\g.
>Your MySQL connection id is 2188
>Server version: 5.7.28 MySQL Community Server (GPL)
> ...

mysql> exit

Make sure that the declared database name is created before running any experiments:

mysql> CREATE DATABASE <db.database>;

db.table is the name of the table that is used to store the experiment results. This table will be created by the experiments package itself.

Experiment config

Next, define the experiment configuration properties. In this configuration, the experiment parameters (keyfields) and results (resultfields) are described. The set of experiments that are inferred from this configuration and later on conducted, is the cartesian product of the parameter values.

mem.max = 2000
cpu.max = 2

keyfields = A1:int,A2:int,A3:float,B1:varchar(500),B2,C:BOOL

A1 = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
A2 = 100, 200, 300
A3 = 1.25, 2.5, 3.725, 5
B1 = this, parameter, has, 5, values
B2 = value1 with whitespace, value2 with whitespace, value3 with whitespace
C = 1, 0

resultfields = R1:int,R2:float,R3:varchar(500)

constraints = A1 > A3 / 100, A3 > A1

This configuration defines these parameter fields for the experiment set:

It also defines that each experiment outputs three values, that is two numerical results R1, R2 and a textual one: R3.

mem.max and cpu.max are mandatory fields that specify the process in which the experiments are performed and are stated in order to establish reproducible experiments.

It is important to note that this defines a set of experiments. A single experiment from this set has key fields set to specific values within the defined domains. For example, the following key values describe the parameters of one of the elements of the experiment set:

A1 = 5
A2 = 200
A3 = 2.5
B1 = "has"
B2 = "value3 with whitespace"
C = false


It is also possible to define constraints among the key fields. The experiment contains only experiments that fulfill all constraints. As an example, no experiment in the set defined by the configuration above has the following key values:

A1 = 1
A2 = 200
A3 = 2.5
B1 = "has"
B2 = "value3 with whitespace"
C = false
Programmatic Constraints

For entirely general constraints, you can add a constraint java:<classname> where <classname> must be the name of a class that implements the generic interface Predicate<List<String>>. This predicate must implement the method test(List<String> partialExperiment) in which it will receive a partial experiment description (the list of Strings can be thought of as a k-tuple with the key values of the first k keys). This method should return true iff there exists any valid experiment that has the first k entries set as defined.

Omitting Meta-Information of Result Fields

By default, the experimenter memorizes, for each result field, the time and the (approximated) memory consumption when it was last updated. To this end, two additional fields are created in the database for each result field. This behavior can be disabled in the configuration file using the fields ignore.time and ignore.memory, respectively.

To ignore update times for R1 and R2, and ignore memory for R1, you can write:

ignore.time = R1, R2
ignore.memory = R1

Note that each specification is interpreted as a regular expression over result field names. So you could also write

ignore.time = R[12]
ignore.memory = R1

To entirely disable the logging of this meta information, you can use

ignore.time = .*
ignore.memory = .*

Programatically Derived Keys

Sometimes, it is cumbersome to define the set of keys inside the configuration file, and you might want to generate them. This is possible by setting the domain of a keyfield to a string of the form java:<classname>, where <classname> must be the name of a class that defines the IExperimentKeyGenerator. At the time of setting up the table or running experiments, the respective class must be in the class path. Use the fully qualified name of the class (including package) for <classname>.

Executing Experiments

This part describes how to incorporate the library into the client code. This includes the preparation of the database, how to define the evaluator that is called for each experiment, and finally how to run the experiments.

It assumes that the db configuration file is located at configs/db.properties and the experiment set config file is located at configs/experiments.cfg.

Preparing the database

Load the configuration files:

IExperimentSetConfig expConfig = (IExperimentSetConfig) ConfigFactory
        .loadPropertiesFromFile(new File("configs/experiments.cnf"));

IDatabaseConfig dbConfig = (IDatabaseConfig) ConfigFactory
        .loadPropertiesFromFile(new File("configs/db.properties"));

Create the MySQL handle and set it up with the experiment set config. This also creates an empty table whose named is defined by the database properties.

ExperimenterMySQLHandle handle = new ExperimenterMySQLHandle(dbConfig);
try {
} catch (ExperimentDBInteractionFailedException e) {
    logger.error("Couldn't setup the sql handle.", e);

Synchronize the experiments table. This block will fill the table with a unique row for each experiment. The results are set to null.

ExperimentDatabasePreparer preparer = new ExperimentDatabasePreparer(expConfig, handle);
try {
} catch (ExperimentDBInteractionFailedException | IllegalExperimentSetupException | AlgorithmTimeoutedException | InterruptedException | AlgorithmExecutionCanceledException | ExperimentAlreadyExistsInDatabaseException e) {
    logger.error("Couldn't synchrinze experiment table.", e);
experiment_id A1 A2 A3 B1 B2 C cpus memory_max time_created host executor time_started R1 R1_time R1_memory R2 R2_time R2_memory R3 R3_time R3_memory exception time_end
1 1 100 1.25 this value1 with whitespace 1 2 2000 Fri Jul 03 2020 … null null null null null null null null null null null null null null
2 1 100 2.5 this value1 with whitespace 0 2 2000 Fri Jul 03 2020 … null null null null null null null null null null null null null null

As can be seen te result fields are all still set to null.

Now create an evaluator that glues the client code to the experimenter. The evaluator is simply any implementation of the interface IExperimentSetEvaluator. The job of the evaluator is to gather the values, call user code and submit the results:

IExperimentSetEvaluator evaluator =
    (ExperimentDBEntry experimentEntry, IExperimentIntermediateResultProcessor processor) -> {
        Experiment experiment = experimentEntry.getExperiment();
        Map<String, String> keyFields = experiment.getValuesOfKeyFields();
        // gather experiment key values:
        int a1 = Integer.parseInt(keyFields.get("A1"));
        int a2 = Integer.parseInt(keyFields.get("A2"));
        float a3 = Float.parseFloat(keyFields.get("A3"));

        String b1 = keyFields.get("B1");
        String b2 = keyFields.get("B2");

        boolean c = keyFields.get("C").equals("1");

        // glue to the client code:
        someUserFunction(a1, a2, a3, b1, b2, c);
        int resultR1 = getResultR1();
        float resultR2 = getResultR2();
        String resultR3 = getResultR3();

        // submit the results:
        Map<String, Object> result = new HashMap<>();
        result.put("R1", resultR1);
        result.put("R2", resultR2);
        result.put("R3", resultR3);

Running Experiments

Now it is possible to run experiments. To do so simply create an ExperimentRunner and run a number of desired experiments:

try {
    ExperimentRunner runner = new ExperimentRunner(expConfig, evaluator, handle);
} catch (ExperimentDBInteractionFailedException | InterruptedException e) {
    logger.error("Error trying to run experiments.", e);

This will run through the database and conduct 100 experiments one after another by calling the evaluator defined above and pushing the results after each evaluation. If the evaluation for some experiments fails, and an exception is thrown, the runner will log the error and continue with the next experiment. The runner will also mark the start time and finish time, in addition to memory consumption after each experiment.

Using the Experimenter Frontend

The experimenter frontend is not a GUI but a simple handle to conveniently manage the experimenter behavior.

ExperimenterFrontend fe = new ExperimenterFrontend().withEvaluator(<your evaluator>).withExperimentsConfig(expConfig).withDatabaseConfig(dbconfig);

/* you can set up a logger name for the evaluator (only makes sense if the evaluator implement ILoggingCustomizable) */
fe.withLoggerNameForAlgorithm("<logger name>");

/* conduct experiments */

The frontend currently does not work with REST-based evaluations.

Parallelizing experiments

Experiments are assumed to be independent of each other. Given the hardware capabilities, it is thus possible, to run experiments in parallel. However, since the memory assigned to an experiment is usually an important experiment criterion, different experiments should never be launched in the same process. That is, do never run several experiments with the same ExperimentRunner in parallel, because this effectively makes the experiments share the assigned memory and hence distortions the results. If you do not care about the memory aspect, running experiments in parallel in the same process is of course fine.

Monitoring Experiment Progress and Detecting/Analyzing Corrupt Experiment Executions

If experiments are run in a compute center, it is often helpful to have some kind of overview of how many experiments have been carried out successfully already. The ExperimentUtil provides some methods to generate SQL queries that help to get insights into what is happening in the experiment execution.

General Progress Overview

To get an overview of the current progress in terms of number of experiments that are open, currently running, finished, and failed, use the result of this metod call:


Here <tablename> refers to the table in which the experiments are maintained. The table will contain a field with the estimated time until the whole experiment set is finished. This computation assumes that all experiments have roughly the same runtime, and it assumes that the same number of executors is used that are currently executing experiments (number of running experiments). Alternatively, a second parameter can be specified to set this number of executors to a fixed number:

ExperimentUtil.getProgressQuery("<tablename>", <numberofparallelexecutors>);

Analyzing Failed Experiments and Corrupt Runs

In particular when running parallel experiments on a compute center, tracing back reasons of exceptions and locating the source of problems can be a tough exercise. To ease this process, the experimenter allows to associate execution information with each experiment executed by an executor. This is achieved by a field executor in the experiments table, which is by default left blank. To change this behavior, the executor must be configured respectively at time of initialization:

new ExperimentRunner(expConfig, evaluator, handle, "<executorinformation>");

/* if you use the experimenter frontend, you can specify the executor info there */

<executorinformation> is an optional parameter, which is empty by default. It defines an identifier of the experiment executor. This is useful if experiments are conducted in compute centers, because then the executor information can be set to the identifier of the process (often a job id) or any other information that helps to locate log information associated with the experiment.

It is not uncommon that something goes wrong with experiments without having the table updated. A consequence is that those experiments still are counted as running in the above overview while they have in fact already died away. Assuming that every process that executes experiments has a unique execution information string, the following queries can be helpful to identify corrupt executions:


This will list all the execution informations for which at least two experiments have been marked as started and not finished; this cannot be the case if everything went right.

To get the concrete experiment entries for such corrupt executions (this can be helpful in order to get the experiment numbers and execution times that can be used to traverse log files), you can use the following query:



The result of each experiment are updated in the database as soon as it is made available by the evaluator above. This means one can run a large set of experiments and retrieve intermediate results as they are being produced.


jaicore-experiments is currently developed in the JAICore/jaicore-experiments folder of AILibs on github.com.

We welcome contributions to jaicore-experiments given that the code quality meets our standards. If you would like to add changes to jaicore-experiments, feel free to create a pull request on the `dev` branch.

Please consider the following: