SPEC CPU®2017 Benchmark Description

Benchmark Name


Benchmark Author

Dr. Andreas Löbel <loebel [at] zib.de>

Dr. Andreas Löbel
Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum Berlin (ZIB)
Takustr. 7
D-14195 Berlin, Germany

Phone:     +49 (0)30 841 85 - 239
Fax:                        - 269
Secretary:                  - 208

Benchmark Program General Category

Combinatorial optimization / Single-depot vehicle scheduling

Benchmark Description

505.mcf_r is a benchmark which is derived from MCF, a program used for single-depot vehicle scheduling in public mass transportation. The program is written in C. The benchmark version uses almost exclusively integer arithmetic.

The program is designed for the solution of single-depot vehicle scheduling (sub-)problems occurring in the planning process of public transportation companies. It considers one single depot and a homogeneous vehicle fleet. Based on a line plan and service frequencies, so-called timetabled trips with fixed departure/arrival locations and times are derived. Each of these timetabled trips has to be serviced by exactly one vehicle. The links between these trips are so-called dead-head trips. In addition, there are pull-out and pull-in trips for leaving and entering the depot.

Cost coefficients are given for all dead-head, pull-out, and pull-in trips. It is the task to schedule all timetabled trips to so-called blocks such that the number of necessary vehicles is as small as possible and, subordinate, the operational costs among all minimal fleet solutions are minimized.

For simplification in the benchmark test, we assume that each pull-out and pull-in trip is defined implicitly with a duration of 15 minutes and a cost coefficient of 15.

For the considered single-depot case, the problem can be formulated as a large-scale minimum-cost flow problem that we solve with a network simplex algorithm accelerated with a column generation. The core of the benchmark 505.mcf_r is the network simplex code "MCF Version 1.2 -- A network simplex implementation", For this benchmark, MCF is embedded in the column generation process.

The network simplex algorithm is a specialized version of the well known simplex algorithm for network flow problems. The linear algebra of the general algorithm is replaced by simple network operations such as finding cycles or modifying spanning trees that can be performed very quickly. The main work of our network simplex implementation is pointer and integer arithmetic.

Because there have been no significant errors or changes during the years 2000 - 2004, most of the source code of the CPU2000 benchmark 181.mcf was not changed in the transition to CPU2017 benchmark 505.mcf_r. However, several central type definitions were changed for the CPU2017 version by the author:

Input Description

The input file contains line by line

Worst case execution time is pseudo-polynomial in the number timetabled and dead-head trips and in the amount of the maximal cost coefficient. The expected execution time, however, is in the order of a low-order polynomial.

Output Description

The benchmark writes to two output files, inp.out and mcf.out.

Programming Language

ANSI C, mathematical library (libm) required.

Regarding OpenMP: Although the source code for the benchmark includes OpenMP directives, these are intentionally suppressed for the SPECspeed2017® version of MCF, due to validation differences across different platforms that were encountered during testing by SPEC®.

Portability issues

The module spec_qsort.c does not obey strict ANSI aliasing rules. You may need to add your compiler's flag that informs it not to assume strict ANSI compliance.

In particular, the problem has been observed with GCC as described in the section below.

Known portability issue: Incorrect answers with GCC LTO+FDO

Some users of GCC 6 (and later) have reported that 505.mcf_r gets wrong answers when compiled with both link-time optimization (LTO) and feedback-directed optimization (FDO), for example at GCC bugzilla 83201. The problem can be seen when this is used with GCC version 7.2.1:

   OPTIMIZE       = -g -O3 -flto 
   PASS1_OPTIMIZE = -fprofile-generate
   PASS2_OPTIMIZE = -fprofile-use

the output from the 505.mcf_r section of runcpu includes:

*** Miscompare of inp.out; for details see

and the referenced file begins:

$ head -6 inp.out.mis
0010:  simplex iterations         : 107102
       simplex iterations         : 107124
0014:  simplex iterations         : 152479
       simplex iterations         : 149776

Analysis It was demonstrated that the problem can occur even when optimization is reduced to:

   OPTIMIZE       = -g -O1 -flto -finline-small-functions -fstrict-aliasing 
   PASS1_OPTIMIZE = -fprofile-generate
   PASS2_OPTIMIZE = -fprofile-use

as inlining decisions are made for modules pbeampp.c and spec_qsort.c.
On careful examination, it appears that the swap macros in spec_qsort.c violate strict ANSI aliasing rules.

q1. Will SPEC fix spec_qsort.c?

a1. No. There are two reasons:

Note, therefore, that the patch attached to GCC bug 83201 is not approved by SPEC and would not be allowed in a reportable run.

q2. Does SPEC care about language standards?

a2. Yes, SPEC cares about language standards.
The time to demonstrate such caring is prior to release of a benchmark suite. During benchmark development, SPEC constantly pushes benchmarks away from proprietary methods and closer to standard methods. Pre-release testers are encouraged to help find such problems by using their compiler's --standard=picky switches.

q3. So what should I do?

a3. If you are using GCC, add -fno-strict-aliasing to your flags, for example:

    EXTRA_CFLAGS = -fno-strict-aliasing

Note that in base, where the rules require consistent flags for all benchmarks, you may already have that flag, because the Example GCC config files have always included it, due to 500.perlbench_r needing it.

q4. What about other compilers?

a4. Spelling varies.
You will need to look in your compiler documentation for the flag that tells the optimizer that it cannot assume strict ANSI conformance.

q5. Several other benchmarks use spec_qsort.c. Are they affected?

a5. It's possible. The same workaround would apply.
Specifically, spec_qsort.c is also used by 502.gcc_r, 602.gcc_s, 511.povray_r, 527.cam4_r, and 627.cam4_s.
It is conceivable that they might also need -fno-strict-aliasing. The example GCC config files as supplied with v1.1.5 demonstrate how to do so.

Sources and Licensing

MCF was licensed directly to SPEC by the authors. SPEC modified qsort and added win32/inttypes.h, both under BSD license.

Please see details in the document SPEC CPU®2017 Licenses.

Other information, WWW Resource

Background information about the vehicle scheduling problem can be found in the author's Ph.D. thesis "Optimal Vehicle scheduling in public transit", which is available via WWW at the author's homepage www.zib.de/members/loebel or at ftp://ftp.zib.de/pub/zib-publications/books/Loebel.disser.ps.

The work horse in the benchmark 505.mcf_r is the code "MCF Version X.X -- A network simplex implementation", which is available for academic use free of charge via WWW at www.zib.de. Information about MCF is available in http://www.zib.de/opt-long_projects/Software/Mcf/

An excellent text book about the network simplex algorithm and network flow in general is Ahuja, Magnanti, and Orlin: "Network Flows: Theory, Algorithms, and Applications", Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1993.

MCF had originally been developed for application in the public transportation systems of Hamburg and Berlin (BVG). For BVG, bus scheduling was optimized in 1998 on the basis of MCF; BVG also owns usage rights to the software that has been integrated into their planning system BERTA.

The MCF method for vehicle scheduling later has been integrated, into the vehicle and personnel planning system MICROBUS. This system in now marketed by IVU Traffic Technologies AG (https://www.ivu.de) to public transportation companies; the bus service divions of the German and the Austrian railway companies are among the licencees.

Compared with the original and the commercial versions, the benchmark version has been simplified in the I/O area, to keep the I/O content small. The main algorithmic part, however, has been retained.

Last updated: $Date: 2020-09-23 10:06:01 -0400 (Wed, 23 Sep 2020) $

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