Numerical Projects – Summer of Code

For all of these projects, potential mentors are Steven Johnson and Simon Byrne.

Numerical Linear Algebra

Native Julia implementations of iterative solvers for numerical linear algebra

Iterative methods for solving numerical linear algebraic problems are crucial for big data applications, which often involve matrices that are too large to store in memory or even to compute its matrix elements explicitly. Iterative Krylov methods such as conjugate gradients (CG) and the generalized minimal residual (GMRES) methods have proven to be particular valuable for a wide variety of applications such as eigenvalue finding, convex optimization, and even systems control. This project proposes to implement a comprehensive suite of iterative solver algorithms in Julia’s native IterativeSolvers.jl package, as described in the implementation roadmap. Students will be encouraged to refactor the codebase to better expose the mathematical structure of the underlying Arnoldi and Lanczos iterations, thus promoting code composability without sacrificing performance.

Recommended Skills: Strong linear algebra background. Familiarity with numerical linear algebra.

Expected Results: New high-performance backend native iterative solvers.

Mentors: Jiahao Chen

Native usage of LinearMaps in iterative solvers

While one normally thinks of solving the linear equation Ax=b with A being a matrix, this concept is more generally applied to A being a linear map. In many domains of science, this idea of directly using a linear map instead of a matrix allows for one to solve the equation in a more efficient manner. Iterative methods for linear solving only require the ability compute A*x in order solve the system, and thus these methods can be extended to use more general linear maps. By restructuring IterativeSolvers.jl to use LinearMap types from LinearMaps.jl, these applications can be directly supported in the library.

Recommended Skills: Strong linear algebra background. Familiarity with numerical linear algebra.

Expected Results: The ability to use more general LinearMaps in the IterativeSolvers.jl methods.

Mentors: Jiahao Chen

PETSc integration for scalable technical computing

PETSc is a widely used framework of data structures and computational routines suitable for massively scaling scientific computations. Many of these algorithms are also ideally suited for big data applications such as computing principal components of very large sparse matrices and solving complicated forecasting models with distributed methods for solving partial differential equations. This project proposal is to develop a new Julia package to interface with PETsc, thus allowing users access to state of the art scalable algorithms for optimization, eigenproblem solvers, finite element mesh computations, and hyperbolic partial differential equation solvers. The more mathematically oriented student may choose to study the performance of these various algorithms as compared to other libraries and naïve implementations. Alternatively, students may also be interested in working on the LLVM BlueGene port for deploying Julia with PetSc integration in an actual supercomputing environment.

Recommended Skills: Some background knowledge in numerical linear algebra and parallel computing.

Expected Results: New wrappers for PETSc functions in the PETSc.jl package.

Parallel dense linear algebra routines

A large portion of big data analytics is predicated upon efficient linear algebraic operations on extremely large matrices. However, massively parallel linear algebra has traditionally focussed on supercomputer architectures, and comparatively little work has been done on efficient scaling on more heterogeneous architectures such as commodity clusters and cloud computing servers, where memory hierarchies and network topologies both introduce latency and bandwidth bottlenecks that differ significantly from those on supercomputers.

This project proposal is for implementing native Julia algorithms involving efficient, cache-conscious matrix operations on tiled matrices. Students will be expected to implement tiled algorithms and tune the performance of typical algorithms such as the singular value decomposition or linear solve.

Recommended Skills: Strong linear algebra background. Familiarity with numerical linear algebra, and some background knowledge in parallel computing.

Expected Results: A native Julia package for parallel dense linear algebra methods.

Mentors: Andreas Noack

Parallel sparse linear algebra routines

Modern data-intensive computations, such as Google’s PageRank algorithm, can often be cast as operations involving sparse matrices of extremely large nominal dimensions. Unlike dense matrices, which decompose naturally into many homogeneous tiles, efficient algorithms for working with sparse matrices must be fully cognizant of the sparsity pattern of specific matrices at hand, which oftentimes reduce to efficiently computing partitions of extremely large graphs.

This project proposal is for implementing native Julia algorithms for massively parallel sparse linear algebra routines. Unlike the project above for dense linear algebra, efficient parallel algorithms for sparse linear algebra are comparatively less well studied and understood. Students will be expected to implement several algorithms for common tasks such as linear solvers or computing eigenvectors, and benchmark the performance of these algrithms on various real world applications.

Recommended Skills: Strong linear algebra background. Familiarity with numerical linear algebra, especially sparse matrices, and some background knowledge in parallel computing.

Expected Results: A native Julia package for parallel sparse linear algebra methods.

Mentors: Sacha Verweij

Base Mathematics Libraries

Upgrading openlibm

OpenLibm is a portable libm implementation used by Julia. It has fallen behind msun, from where it was forked a few years ago. This project seeks to update OpenLibm with all the latest bugfixes to msun. At the same time the MUSL libm implementation will be considered as an alternative to base openlibm on. A significant testsuite based on various existing libm testsuites will be created.

Recommended Skills: A strong understanding of calculus.

Expected Results: New and faster methods for evaluating elementary mathematical functions. Benchmarks showing the performance differences for various implementations.

Mentors: Simon Byrne

Special functions

As a technical computing language, Julia provides a huge number of special functions, both in Base as well as packages such as StatsFuns.jl. At the moment, many of these are implemented in external libraries such as Rmath and openspecfun. This project would involve implementing these functions in native Julia (possibly utilising the work in SpecialFunctions.jl), seeking out opportunties for possible improvements along the way, such as supporting Float32 and BigFloat, exploiting fused multiply-add operations, and improving errors and boundary cases.

Recommended Skills: A strong understanding of calculus.

Expected Results: New and faster methods for evaluating properties of special functions.

Mentors: Simon Byrne

Matrix functions

Matrix functions maps matrices onto other matrices, and can often be interpreted as generalizations of ordinary functions like sine and exponential, which map numbers to numbers. Once considered a niche province of numerical algorithms, matrix functions now appear routinely in applications to cryptography, aircraft design, nonlinear dynamics, and finance.

This project proposes to implement state of the art algorithms that extend the currently available matrix functions in Julia, as outlined in issue #5840. In addition to matrix generalizations of standard functions such as real matrix powers, surds and logarithms, students will be challenged to design generic interfaces for lifting general scalar-valued functions to their matrix analogues for the efficient computation of arbitrary (well-behaved) matrix functions and their derivatives.

Recommended Skills: A strong understanding of calculus and numerical analysis.

Expected Results: New and faster methods for evaluating matrix functions.

Mentors: Jiahao Chen

Interval arithmetic

A standards-compliant interval arithmetic library

Interval arithmetic provides a way to perform computations with floating-point numbers that are guaranteed to be correct, by wrapping each operand in an interval. ValidatedNumerics.jl is a native Julia package providing interval functions that has a significant amount of functionality.

This project proposes to achieve compliance of this package with the IEEE 1788-2015 Standard, which specifies how interval arithmetic packages should behave. This would make the package one of the first few packages to be fully compliant with the standard. It would involve adding some functions, writing documentation, improving the test suite, writing a compliance document, and overhauling and simplifying the code that already exists. The goal is to make this package a reference for interval arithmetic implementations.

Recommended Skills: Mathematical background; a basic understanding of floating-point arithmetic; an eye for detail and aesthetics; strong writing skills.

Expected results: A library that fulfills the IEEE 1788-2015 standard.

Mentors: David P. Sanders, Luis Benet

Inverse (or “backward”) functions and contractors for interval constraint propagation

One important application of interval arithmetic is to the characterization of sets that satisfy certain inequalities (“set inversion”), as used, for example, in optimization, robotics, and the proof of mathematical theorems via rigorous numerical calculation. The state-of-the-art technique for this is interval constraint propagation, in particular the concept of “contractors”. The package IntervalConstraintProgramming.jl contains basic interval constraint propagation tools for polynomials.

This project will develop a package IntervalContractors.jl to refactor out the part of the package dealing with contractors and inverse functions, which will enable the inversion of functions involving transcendental functions such as sin and exp.

To do so, it will be necessary to implement inverse functions for the standard functions, such as sin, exp, etc, as well as the corresponding contractors. These inverse functions return sets, expressed as intervals, that contain the inverse image of a given set. Two versions of these functions will be produced: one that returns an interval, and the other that may return the union of several disjoint intervals.

Recommended Skills: Mathematical background including basic set theory.

Expected results: A library of interval contractors for interval constraint propagation.

Mentors: David P. Sanders, Luis Benet

Native Bignums

Julia currently supports big integers, rationals and floats, making use of the GMP and MPFR libraries. However, the current implementation is very basic, performance is far from optimal compared to hand-written GMP code, and the GMP license is GPL 3.

This project therefore involves exploring ways to improve bignums, possibly including:

This experimentation could be carried out as a package with a new implementation, or as patches over the existing implementation in Base.

Expected Results: An implementation of BigNums in Julia with increased performance over the current one.

Require Skills: Familiarity with extended precision numerics and performance considerations. Familiarity either with Julia or GMP.

Mentors: Jameson Nash, Yichao Yu

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