Are min() and max() operations O(n) on PyTorch tensors?

I have experimented with some example tensors of reasonably large size, and fetching the min and max values from these tensors seems suspiciously fast. Are these operations O(n) or does Pytorch perhaps keep track of them behind the scenes for quick retrieval? Of course the time taken will be system dependent, as well as GPU dependent. The below example is running with tensors on a CPU.

import torch
import time

large_tensor = torch.randn(100,500,10000)
start = time.time()
end = time.time() - start 
print(f'Time taken to find both min and max: {end} seconds')

Time taken to find both min and max: 0.6569840908050537 seconds
Thank you in advance for considering my question!



  • You want warmup, probably.
  • You don’t want to use time.time for timing. Use time.perf_counter. Or use Jupyter/IPython and %timeit
  • One thing to keep in mind with GPU benchmarking is to do the syncing before looking at the wall clock (before start and before end).

Best regards


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Thank you @tom . One more question about this: if I want to get both the min and the max as fast as possible which way is most efficient:

  • Use Tensor.min() and then Tensor.max() (separately)
  • Or, sort the entire tensor once to and then look at the first and last element in the result

Kind regards

It probably depends on the problem size, sorting is a much more expensive operation than min/max, and you will feel that with large inputs.
On the other hand, for small problems, you would probably not overthink optimizing this, anyways.
You might also see if the advanced jit fusers optimize this, I think they are capable of this, but I don’t know if they do it.

If you don’t need gradients, there also is the relatively new, undocumented torch._aminmax.

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