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Managing the Performance/Error Tradeoff of Floating-point Intensive Applications

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ACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems, Volume 16
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Modern embedded systems are becoming more reliant on real-valued arithmetic as they employ mathematically complex vision algorithms and sensor signal processing. Double-precision floating point is the most commonly used precision in computer vision algorithm implementations. A single-precision floating point can provide a performance boost due to less memory transfers, less cache occupancy, and relatively faster mathematical operations on some architectures. However, adopting it can result in loss of accuracy. Identifying which parts of the program can run in single-precision floating point with low impact on error is a manual and tedious process. In this paper, we propose an automatic approach to identify parts of the program that have a low impact on error using shadow-value analysis. Our approach provides the user with a performance / error tradeoff, using which the user can decide how much accuracy can be sacrificed in return for performance
improvement. We illustrate the impact of the approach using a well known implementation of Apriltag detection used in robotics vision. We demonstrate that an average 1.3x speedup can be achieved with no impact on tag detection, and a 1.7x speedup with only 4% false negatives.