OPT-2 Optimize “is” operations to pointer comparisons#


Python has two mechanisms for equality, the is keyword, and rich comparisons (==, !=, etc.).

For the is or is not keyword, the IS_OP opcode is emitted by the CPython compiler.

For this statement:

a is b

This should have the following effect:

  1. Compare the pointers to objects a and b

  2. Decrement the references of a and b

  3. If the pointers are equal return a pointer to Py_True and increment the reference count to Py_True.

  4. If the pointers are not equal return a pointer Py_False and increment the reference count to Py_False.

  5. If this is is not reverse the logic of 3 and 4


This optimization will emit CIL opcodes (and native machine code) to the equivalent of:

  • Load the left-hand pointer from the evaluation stack

  • Load the right-hand pointer from the evaluation stack

  • Compare the pointer addresses (qword comp)

  • Branch to return true if match by returning a cached address of Py_True, or

  • Branch to return false if not matched by returning a cached address of Py_False

  • Decrement both the left-hand and right-hand objects

Without OPT-1 Inline DECREF operations when the reference count is >1, this optimization gains are minimal because it would call a global method to decrement left-hand and right-hand objects.


  • Use of IS_OP via is and is not keywords is very efficient (more so than CPython)




This optimization is enabled at level 1 by default. See Optimizations for help on changing runtime optimization settings.