Nickle's performance appears to be around 5 times slower
than equivalent C code using the GNU GMP multiple-precision library,
and quite a bit faster than GNU `bc`. Some simple
benchmarks were run to compare the performance of Nickle
1.99.3, GNU `bc` 1.05, and C using GNU GMP 2.0.
Four benchmarks were utilized: `rfact`
computes using the
obvious recursive implementation, `ifact`
computes iteratively, `choose` computes
(using `ifact` in the C and `bc`
versions), and `comp` applies the Miller-Rabin
test to the prime number for every possible base
from to . (The source of all of these
benchmarks is available with the Nickle distribution.)

Table 1 shows Nickle execution times on an Athlon
700 with 256MB of RAM
running Linux kernel 2.4.1
in
single-user mode. All times are the
minimum of 5 insignificantly different consecutive runs.
(Nickle's built-in operator, while more convenient,
produced similar timings to the hand-coded versions.)
Nickle and GMP spent about 50% of total time
on the factorial benchmarks generating and printing
the decimal result (since there appears to be no easy way to
inhibit this behavior in `bc`). The runtimes for these
benchmarks are thus somewhat inflated.
In general, the performance
results are positive: the small performance hit over C code is more than
made up for in ease of use.