2.7 Util

JCOP's util package contains several useful classes which are used by several other packages to simplify things a bit. Util currently contains classes PreciseTime and JcopRandom along with several comparators.

PreciseTime

PreciseTime is used to measure all kind of times in JCOP. Apart from regular time (called clock time) there are CPU, User and System times (for more information see CPU/User/System time on Wikipedia. Note that by CPU time JCOP understands User + System time), which allows to measure CPU/User/System time of current thread. Keep in mind that despite its name, PreciseTime is not perfectly precise. Times returned depends very much on used operating system and even though returned time is in miliseconds precision, it need not be in miliseconds accuracy.

This class works together with PreciseTimestamp which stores all four times (clock, cpu, system, user) as one timestamp and represents one point in time. When two different timestamps are created, you can get how much time were spent between them. PreciseTimestamp is preferred to be used in JCOP whenever you want to measure time.

JcopRandom

JcopRandom is extension to simple java.util.Random. It has two goals in mind. First is to have static access so that you do not need to create new Random() instances for just one random number. The other is however much more important. JcopRand could be initialized with random seed (just as java.util.Random can), but whenever you do this, all random numbers in whole JCOP (as long as all parts of JCOP uses JcopRandom) will return random numbers in the same order. You can then run one experiment again with exactly the same results (well, almost the same - same as long as they do not depend on time for example) really easy.

Comparators

These classes implements java.util.Comparator interface and are used to sort arrays of elements in JCOP. For example, in SimpleCompareRender, you need to sort results by their fitness. So you just create a ResultEntryFitnessComparator and you can sort list of ResultEntries to be displayed best to worst.

Log4j

Even though Log4j is not part o Util package, it belongs here. It is a third-party library used to low-level debugging and logging and is very easy to use. For examples on usage I recommend reading Short introduction to log4j on its homepage.

The only requirement for Log4j to work properly in JCOP is to initialize it correctly. This can be done in several ways, but the preferred one is using log4j.properties file. Log4j looks for this file in your classpath and tries to configure itself from it. There are three such files bundled with JCOP - log disabled completely (file log4j-off.properties), log enabled to console (file log4j-console.properties) and log enabled to console and file (configuration log4j-console-file.properties). They all reside inside jcop.jar archive or available to download from SourceForge. You can use one of them (copy it to your source folder and rename it to log4j.properties) or write your own (see log4j documentation for details then). If you have not configured log4j properly, you are most likely to get something like this in console:

log4j:WARN No appenders could be found for logger (cz.cvut.felk.cig.jcop.solver.SimpleSolver).
log4j:WARN Please initialize the log4j system properly.