# Ctypes#

Ctypes is a very interesting python package which lets you import shared object libraries into python and call them directly. I should say that even though this is called ctypes, it can be used just as well to call functions from libraries written in fortran. The only complication is you need to know what a fortran function looks like to C. This is simple everything is a pointer, so if your fortran function would be called as foo(A,N) where A is an array and N is its length, then to call it from C it takes a pointer to an array of doubles and a pointer to an int. The other thing to be aware of is that from C, fortran functions usually have an underscore appended. That is, a fortran function foo would appear as foo from C (this is usually the case but is compiler dependent). Having said this, the following examples are in C.

As an example suppose you write the following simple C program

```
#include <stdio.h>
int sum(double *x,int n)
{
int i;
double counter;
counter = 0;
for(i=0;i<n;i++)
{
counter=counter+x[i];
}
return counter;
}
```

which you want to call from python. First make a shared object library by doing (at the command line)

```
$ gcc -c sum.c
$ gcc -shared -o sum.so sum.o
```

Note that on OSX -shared should be replaced by -dynamiclib and sum.so should be called sum.dylib Then you can do

```
from ctypes import *
my_sum=CDLL('sum.so')
a=numpy.array(range(10),dtype=float)
my_sum.sum(a.ctypes.data_as(c_void_p),int(10))
```

Note here that `a.ctypes.data_as(c_void_p)`

returns a ctypes
object that is void pointer to the underlying
array of a. Note that even though sum takes a double*, as long as
we have a pointer to the correct data it doesn’t matter what its
type is since it will be automatically cast.

Note that actually there are other ways to pass in the required array of doubles. For example

```
a=(c_double*10)()
for i in range(10):
a[i]=i
my_sum.sum(a,int(10))
```

This example only uses ctypes. Ctypes has wrappers for C data types so for example

```
a=c_double(10.4)
```

would create a ctypes double object which could be passed to a C function. Note that there is a byref function that lets you pass parameters by reference. This is used in the next example. c double*10, is a python object that represents an array of 10 doubles and

```
a=(c_double*10)()
```

sets a equal to an array of 10 doubles. I find this method is usually less useful than using numpy arrays when the data is mathematical as numpy arrays are more well integrated into python and sage.

Here is an example of using ctypes to directly call lapack. Note that this will only work if you have a lapack shared object library on your system. Also on linux the file would be liblapack.so and you will probably use dgesv (OSX use CLAPACK hence the lack of the underscore).

```
from ctypes import *
def ctypes_solve(m,b,n):
a=CDLL('/usr/lib/liblapack.dylib')
import numpy
p=(c_int*n)()
size=c_int(n)
ones=c_int(1)
ok=c_int(0)
a.dgesv(byref(size),byref(ones),m.ctypes.data_as(c_void_p),
byref(size),p,b.ctypes.data_as(c_void_p),byref(size),byref(ok))
```

For completeness, let us consider a way to solve the laplace equation using C types. Suppose you have written a simple solver in C and you want to call it from python so you can easily test different boundary conditions. Your C program might look like this.

```
#include <math.h>
#include <stdio.h>
double timestep(double *u,int nx,int ny,double dx,double dy)
{
double tmp, err, diff,dx2,dy2,dnr_inv;
dx2=dx*dx;
dy2=dy*dy;
dnr_inv=0.5/(dx2+dy2);
err = 0.0;
int i,j;
for (i=1; i<nx-1; ++i) {
for (j=1; j<ny-1; ++j) {
tmp = u[i*nx+j];
u[i*nx+j] = ((u[(i-1)*nx+j] + u[(i+1)*nx+j])*dy2 +
(u[i*nx+j-1] + u[i*nx+j+1])*dx2)*dnr_inv;
diff = u[i*nx+j] - tmp;
err += diff*diff;
}
}
return sqrt(err);
}
double solve_in_C(double *u,int nx,int ny,double dx,double dy)
{
double err;
int iter;
iter = 0;
err = 1;
while(iter <10000 && err > 1e-6)
{
err=timestep(u,nx,ny,dx,dy);
iter++;
}
return err;
}
```

We can compile it by running at the command line

```
$ gcc -c laplace.c
$ gcc -shared -o laplace.so laplace.o
```

Now in sage (notebook or command line) execute

```
from ctypes import *
laplace=CDLL('/home/jkantor/laplace.so')
laplace.timestep.restype=c_double
laplace.solve_in_C.restype=c_double
import numpy
u=numpy.zeros((51,51),dtype=float)
pi_c=float(pi)
x=numpy.arange(0,pi_c+pi_c/50,pi_c/50,dtype=float)
u[0,:]=numpy.sin(x)
u[50,:]=numpy.sin(x)
def solve(u):
iter =0
err = 2
n=c_int(int(51))
pi_c=float(pi/50)
dx=c_double(pi_c)
while(iter <5000 and err>1e-6):
err=laplace.timestep(u.ctypes.data_as(c_void_p),n,n,dx,dx)
iter+=1
if(iter %50==0):
print((err,iter))
return (u,err,iter)
```

Note the line laplace.timestep.restype=c double. By default ctypes assumes the return values are ints. If they are not you need to tell it by setting restype to the correct return type. If you execute the above code, then solve(u) will solve the system. It is comparable to the fortran solution taking around .2 seconds. Alternatively you could do

```
n=c_int(int(51))
dx=c_double(float(pi/50))
laplace.solve_in_C(n.ctypes.data_as(c_void_p),n,n,dx,dx)
```

which computes the solution entirely in C. This is very fast. Admittedly we could have had our fortran routines do the entire solution at the Fortran level and we would have the same speed.

As I said earlier you can just as easily call a shared object library that is written in Fortran using ctypes. The key point is it must be a shared object library and all fortran arguments are passed by reference, that is as pointers or using byref. Also even though we used very simple data types, it is possible to deal with more complicated C structures. For this and more about ctypes see http://python.net/crew/theller/ctypes/