Writing distributed HPX applications

This section focuses on the features of HPX needed to write distributed applications, namely the Active Global Address Space (AGAS), remotely executable functions (i.e. actions), and distributed objects (i.e. components).

Global names

HPX implements an Active Global Address Space (AGAS) which is exposing a single uniform address space spanning all localities an application runs on. AGAS is a fundamental component of the ParalleX execution model. Conceptually, there is no rigid demarcation of local or global memory in AGAS; all available memory is a part of the same address space. AGAS enables named objects to be moved (migrated) across localities without having to change the object’s name, i.e., no references to migrated objects have to be ever updated. This feature has significance for dynamic load balancing and in applications where the workflow is highly dynamic, allowing work to be migrated from heavily loaded nodes to less loaded nodes. In addition, immutability of names ensures that AGAS does not have to keep extra indirections (“bread crumbs”) when objects move, hence minimizing complexity of code management for system developers as well as minimizing overheads in maintaining and managing aliases.

The AGAS implementation in HPX does not automatically expose every local address to the global address space. It is the responsibility of the programmer to explicitly define which of the objects have to be globally visible and which of the objects are purely local.

In HPX global addresses (global names) are represented using the hpx::id_type data type. This data type is conceptually very similar to void* pointers as it does not expose any type information of the object it is referring to.

The only predefined global addresses are assigned to all localities. The following HPX API functions allow one to retrieve the global addresses of localities:

Additionally, the global addresses of localities can be used to create new instances of components using the following HPX API function:

  • hpx::components::new_: Create a new instance of the given Component type on the specified locality.

Note

HPX does not expose any functionality to delete component instances. All global addresses (as represented using hpx::id_type) are automatically garbage collected. When the last (global) reference to a particular component instance goes out of scope the corresponding component instance is automatically deleted.

Applying actions

Action type definition

Actions are special types we use to describe possibly remote operations. For every global function and every member function which has to be invoked distantly, a special type must be defined. For any global function the special macro HPX_PLAIN_ACTION can be used to define the action type. Here is an example demonstrating this:

namespace app
{
    void some_global_function(double d)
    {
        cout << d;
    }
}

// This will define the action type 'some_global_action' which represents
// the function 'app::some_global_function'.
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(app::some_global_function, some_global_action);

Important

The macro HPX_PLAIN_ACTION has to be placed in global namespace, even if the wrapped function is located in some other namespace. The newly defined action type is placed in the global namespace as well.

If the action type should be defined somewhere not in global namespace, the action type definition has to be split into two macro invocations (HPX_DEFINE_PLAIN_ACTION and HPX_REGISTER_ACTION) as shown in the next example:

namespace app
{
    void some_global_function(double d)
    {
        cout << d;
    }

    // On conforming compilers the following macro expands to:
    //
    //    typedef hpx::actions::make_action<
    //        decltype(&some_global_function), &some_global_function
    //    >::type some_global_action;
    //
    // This will define the action type 'some_global_action' which represents
    // the function 'some_global_function'.
    HPX_DEFINE_PLAIN_ACTION(some_global_function, some_global_action);
}

// The following macro expands to a series of definitions of global objects
// which are needed for proper serialization and initialization support
// enabling the remote invocation of the function``some_global_function``
HPX_REGISTER_ACTION(app::some_global_action, app_some_global_action);

The shown code defines an action type some_global_action inside the namespace app.

Important

If the action type definition is split between two macros as shown above, the name of the action type to create has to be the same for both macro invocations (here some_global_action).

Important

The second argument passed to HPX_REGISTER_ACTION (app_some_global_action) has to comprise a globally unique C++ identifier representing the action. This is used for serialization purposes.

For member functions of objects which have been registered with AGAS (e.g. ‘components’) a different registration macro HPX_DEFINE_COMPONENT_ACTION has to be utilized. Any component needs to be declared in a header file and have some special support macros defined in a source file. Here is an example demonstrating this. The first snippet has to go into the header file:

namespace app
{
    struct some_component
      : hpx::components::component_base<some_component>
    {
        int some_member_function(std::string s)
        {
            return boost::lexical_cast<int>(s);
        }

        // This will define the action type 'some_member_action' which
        // represents the member function 'some_member_function' of the
        // object type 'some_component'.
        HPX_DEFINE_COMPONENT_ACTION(some_component, some_member_function,
            some_member_action);
    };
}

// Note: The second argument to the macro below has to be systemwide-unique
//       C++ identifiers
HPX_REGISTER_ACTION_DECLARATION(app::some_component::some_member_action, some_component_some_action);

The next snippet belongs into a source file (e.g. the main application source file) in the simplest case:

typedef hpx::components::component<app::some_component> component_type;
typedef app::some_component some_component;

HPX_REGISTER_COMPONENT(component_type, some_component);

// The parameters for this macro have to be the same as used in the corresponding
// HPX_REGISTER_ACTION_DECLARATION() macro invocation above
typedef some_component::some_member_action some_component_some_action;
HPX_REGISTER_ACTION(some_component_some_action);

Granted, these macro invocations are a bit more complex than for simple global functions, however we believe they are still manageable.

The most important macro invocation is the HPX_DEFINE_COMPONENT_ACTION in the header file as this defines the action type we need to invoke the member function. For a complete example of a simple component action see [hpx_link examples/quickstart/component_in_executable.cpp..component_in_executable.cpp]

Action invocation

The process of invoking a global function (or a member function of an object) with the help of the associated action is called ‘applying the action’. Actions can have arguments, which will be supplied while the action is applied. At the minimum, one parameter is required to apply any action - the id of the locality the associated function should be invoked on (for global functions), or the id of the component instance (for member functions). Generally, HPX provides several ways to apply an action, all of which are described in the following sections.

Generally, HPX actions are very similar to ‘normal’ C++ functions except that actions can be invoked remotely. Fig. 8 below shows an overview of the main API exposed by HPX. This shows the function invocation syntax as defined by the C++ language (dark gray), the additional invocation syntax as provided through C++ Standard Library features (medium gray), and the extensions added by HPX (light gray) where:

  • f function to invoke,
  • p..: (optional) arguments,
  • R: return type of f,
  • action: action type defined by, HPX_DEFINE_PLAIN_ACTION or HPX_DEFINE_COMPONENT_ACTION encapsulating f,
  • a: an instance of the type `action,
  • id: the global address the action is applied to.
../_images/hpx_the_api.png

Fig. 8 Overview of the main API exposed by HPX.

This figure shows that HPX allows the user to apply actions with a syntax similar to the C++ standard. In fact, all action types have an overloaded function operator allowing to synchronously apply the action. Further, HPX implements hpx::async which semantically works similar to the way std::async works for plain C++ function.

Note

The similarity of applying an action to conventional function invocations extends even further. HPX implements hpx::bind and hpx::function two facilities which are semantically equivalent to the std::bind and std::function types as defined by the C++11 Standard. While hpx::async extends beyond the conventional semantics by supporting actions and conventional C++ functions, the HPX facilities hpx::bind and hpx::function extend beyond the conventional standard facilities too. The HPX facilities not only support conventional functions, but can be used for actions as well.

Additionally, HPX exposes hpx::apply and hpx::async_continue both of which refine and extend the standard C++ facilities.

The different ways to invoke a function in HPX will be explained in more detail in the following sections.

Applying an action asynchronously without any synchronization

This method (‘fire and forget’) will make sure the function associated with the action is scheduled to run on the target locality. Applying the action does not wait for the function to start running, instead it is a fully asynchronous operation. The following example shows how to apply the action as defined in the previous section on the local locality (the locality this code runs on):

some_global_action act;     // define an instance of some_global_action
hpx::apply(act, hpx::find_here(), 2.0);

(the function hpx::find_here() returns the id of the local locality, i.e. the locality this code executes on).

Any component member function can be invoked using the same syntactic construct. Given that id is the global address for a component instance created earlier, this invocation looks like:

some_component_action act;     // define an instance of some_component_action
hpx::apply(act, id, "42");

In this case any value returned from this action (e.g. in this case the integer 42 is ignored. Please look at Action type definition for the code defining the component action some_component_action used.

Applying an action asynchronously with synchronization

This method will make sure the action is scheduled to run on the target locality. Applying the action itself does not wait for the function to start running or to complete, instead this is a fully asynchronous operation similar to using hpx::apply as described above. The difference is that this method will return an instance of a hpx::future<> encapsulating the result of the (possibly remote) execution. The future can be used to synchronize with the asynchronous operation. The following example shows how to apply the action from above on the local locality:

some_global_action act;     // define an instance of some_global_action
hpx::future<void> f = hpx::async(act, hpx::find_here(), 2.0);
//
// ... other code can be executed here
//
f.get();    // this will possibly wait for the asynchronous operation to 'return'

(as before, the function hpx::find_here() returns the id of the local locality (the locality this code is executed on).

Note

The use of a hpx::future<void> allows the current thread to synchronize with any remote operation not returning any value.

Note

Any std::future<> returned from std::async() is required to block in its destructor if the value has not been set for this future yet. This is not true for hpx::future<> which will never block in its destructor, even if the value has not been returned to the future yet. We believe that consistency in the behavior of futures is more important than standards conformance in this case.

Any component member function can be invoked using the same syntactic construct. Given that id is the global address for a component instance created earlier, this invocation looks like:

some_component_action act;     // define an instance of some_component_action
hpx::future<int> f = hpx::async(act, id, "42");
//
// ... other code can be executed here
//
cout << f.get();    // this will possibly wait for the asynchronous operation to 'return' 42

Note

The invocation of f.get() will return the result immediately (without suspending the calling thread) if the result from the asynchronous operation has already been returned. Otherwise, the invocation of f.get() will suspend the execution of the calling thread until the asynchronous operation returns its result.

Applying an action synchronously

This method will schedule the function wrapped in the specified action on the target locality. While the invocation appears to be synchronous (as we will see), the calling thread will be suspended while waiting for the function to return. Invoking a plain action (e.g. a global function) synchronously is straightforward:

some_global_action act;     // define an instance of some_global_action
act(hpx::find_here(), 2.0);

While this call looks just like a normal synchronous function invocation, the function wrapped by the action will be scheduled to run on a new thread and the calling thread will be suspended. After the new thread has executed the wrapped global function, the waiting thread will resume and return from the synchronous call.

Equivalently, any action wrapping a component member function can be invoked synchronously as follows:

some_component_action act;     // define an instance of some_component_action
int result = act(id, "42");

The action invocation will either schedule a new thread locally to execute the wrapped member function (as before, id is the global address of the component instance the member function should be invoked on), or it will send a parcel to the remote locality of the component causing a new thread to be scheduled there. The calling thread will be suspended until the function returns its result. This result will be returned from the synchronous action invocation.

It is very important to understand that this ‘synchronous’ invocation syntax in fact conceals an asynchronous function call. This is beneficial as the calling thread is suspended while waiting for the outcome of a potentially remote operation. The HPX thread scheduler will schedule other work in the meantime, allowing the application to make further progress while the remote result is computed. This helps overlapping computation with communication and hiding communication latencies.

Note

The syntax of applying an action is always the same, regardless whether the target locality is remote to the invocation locality or not. This is a very important feature of HPX as it frees the user from the task of keeping track what actions have to be applied locally and which actions are remote. If the target for applying an action is local, a new thread is automatically created and scheduled. Once this thread is scheduled and run, it will execute the function encapsulated by that action. If the target is remote, HPX will send a parcel to the remote locality which encapsulates the action and its parameters. Once the parcel is received on the remote locality HPX will create and schedule a new thread there. Once this thread runs on the remote locality, it will execute the function encapsulated by the action.

Applying an action with a continuation but without any synchronization

This method is very similar to the method described in section Applying an action asynchronously without any synchronization. The difference is that it allows the user to chain a sequence of asynchronous operations, while handing the (intermediate) results from one step to the next step in the chain. Where hpx::apply invokes a single function using ‘fire and forget’ semantics, hpx::apply_continue asynchronously triggers a chain of functions without the need for the execution flow ‘to come back’ to the invocation site. Each of the asynchronous functions can be executed on a different locality.

Applying an action with a continuation and with synchronization

This method is very similar to the method described in section Applying an action asynchronously with synchronization. In addition to what hpx::async can do, the functions hpx::async_continue takes an additional function argument. This function will be called as the continuation of the executed action. It is expected to perform additional operations and to make sure that a result is returned to the original invocation site. This method chains operations asynchronously by providing a continuation operation which is automatically executed once the first action has finished executing.

As an example we chain two actions, where the result of the first action is forwarded to the second action and the result of the second action is sent back to the original invocation site:

// first action
std::int32_t action1(std::int32_t i)
{
    return i+1;
}
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(action1);    // defines action1_type

// second action
std::int32_t action2(std::int32_t i)
{
    return i*2;
}
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(action2);    // defines action2_type

// this code invokes 'action1' above and passes along a continuation
// function which will forward the result returned from 'action1' to
// 'action2'.
action1_type act1;     // define an instance of 'action1_type'
action2_type act2;     // define an instance of 'action2_type'
hpx::future<int> f =
    hpx::async_continue(act1, hpx::make_continuation(act2),
        hpx::find_here(), 42);
hpx::cout << f.get() << "\n";   // will print: 86 ((42 + 1) * 2)

By default, the continuation is executed on the same locality as hpx::async_continue is invoked from. If you want to specify the locality where the continuation should be executed, the code above has to be written as:

// this code invokes 'action1' above and passes along a continuation
// function which will forward the result returned from 'action1' to
// 'action2'.
action1_type act1;     // define an instance of 'action1_type'
action2_type act2;     // define an instance of 'action2_type'
hpx::future<int> f =
    hpx::async_continue(act1, hpx::make_continuation(act2, hpx::find_here()),
        hpx::find_here(), 42);
hpx::cout << f.get() << "\n";   // will print: 86 ((42 + 1) * 2)

Similarly, it is possible to chain more than 2 operations:

action1_type act1;     // define an instance of 'action1_type'
action2_type act2;     // define an instance of 'action2_type'
hpx::future<int> f =
    hpx::async_continue(act1,
        hpx::make_continuation(act2, hpx::make_continuation(act1)),
        hpx::find_here(), 42);
hpx::cout << f.get() << "\n";   // will print: 87 ((42 + 1) * 2 + 1)

The function hpx::make_continuation creates a special function object which exposes the following prototype:

struct continuation
{
    template <typename Result>
    void operator()(hpx::id_type id, Result&& result) const
    {
        ...
    }
};

where the parameters passed to the overloaded function operator operator()() are:

  • the id is the global id where the final result of the asynchronous chain of operations should be sent to (in most cases this is the id of the hpx::future returned from the initial call to hpx::async_continue. Any custom continuation function should make sure this id is forwarded to the last operation in the chain.
  • the result is the result value of the current operation in the asynchronous execution chain. This value needs to be forwarded to the next operation.

Note

All of those operations are implemented by the predefined continuation function object which is returned from hpx::make_continuation. Any (custom) function object used as a continuation should conform to the same interface.

Action error handling

Like in any other asynchronous invocation scheme it is important to be able to handle error conditions occurring while the asynchronous (and possibly remote) operation is executed. In HPX all error handling is based on standard C++ exception handling. Any exception thrown during the execution of an asynchronous operation will be transferred back to the original invocation locality, where it is rethrown during synchronization with the calling thread.

Important

Exceptions thrown during asynchronous execution can be transferred back to the invoking thread only for the synchronous and the asynchronous case with synchronization. Like with any other unhandled exception, any exception thrown during the execution of an asynchronous action without synchronization will result in calling hpx::terminate causing the running application to exit immediately.

Note

Even if error handling internally relies on exceptions, most of the API functions exposed by HPX can be used without throwing an exception. Please see Working with exceptions for more information.

As an example, we will assume that the following remote function will be executed:

namespace app
{
    void some_function_with_error(int arg)
    {
        if (arg < 0) {
            HPX_THROW_EXCEPTION(bad_parameter, "some_function_with_error",
                "some really bad error happened");
        }
        // do something else...
    }
}

// This will define the action type 'some_error_action' which represents
// the function 'app::some_function_with_error'.
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(app::some_function_with_error, some_error_action);

The use of HPX_THROW_EXCEPTION to report the error encapsulates the creation of a hpx::exception which is initialized with the error code hpx::bad_parameter. Additionally it carries the passed strings, the information about the file name, line number, and call stack of the point the exception was thrown from.

We invoke this action using the synchronous syntax as described before:

// note: wrapped function will throw hpx::exception
some_error_action act;            // define an instance of some_error_action
try {
    act(hpx::find_here(), -3);    // exception will be rethrown from here
}
catch (hpx::exception const& e) {
    // prints: 'some really bad error happened: HPX(bad parameter)'
    cout << e.what();
}

If this action is invoked asynchronously with synchronization, the exception is propagated to the waiting thread as well and is re-thrown from the future’s function get():

// note: wrapped function will throw hpx::exception
some_error_action act;            // define an instance of some_error_action
hpx::future<void> f = hpx::async(act, hpx::find_here(), -3);
try {
    f.get();                      // exception will be rethrown from here
}
catch (hpx::exception const& e) {
    // prints: 'some really bad error happened: HPX(bad parameter)'
    cout << e.what();
}

For more information about error handling please refer to the section Working with exceptions. There we also explain how to handle error conditions without having to rely on exception.

Writing components

A component in HPX is a C++ class which can be created remotely and for which its member functions can be invoked remotely as well. The following sections highlight how components can be defined, created, and used.

Defining components

In order for a C++ class type to be managed remotely in HPX, the type must be derived from the hpx::components::component_base template type. We call such C++ class types ‘components’.

Note that the component type itself is passed as a template argument to the base class:

// header file some_component.hpp

#include <hpx/include/components.hpp>

namespace app
{
    // Define a new component type 'some_component'
    struct some_component
      : hpx::components::component_base<some_component>
    {
        // This member function is has to be invoked remotely
        int some_member_function(std::string const& s)
        {
            return boost::lexical_cast<int>(s);
        }

        // This will define the action type 'some_member_action' which
        // represents the member function 'some_member_function' of the
        // object type 'some_component'.
        HPX_DEFINE_COMPONENT_ACTION(some_component, some_member_function, some_member_action);
    };
}

// This will generate the necessary boiler-plate code for the action allowing
// it to be invoked remotely. This declaration macro has to be placed in the
// header file defining the component itself.
//
// Note: The second argument to the macro below has to be systemwide-unique
//       C++ identifiers
//
HPX_REGISTER_ACTION_DECLARATION(app::some_component::some_member_action, some_component_some_action);

There is more boiler plate code which has to be placed into a source file in order for the component to be usable. Every component type is required to have macros placed into its source file, one for each component type and one macro for each of the actions defined by the component type.

For instance:

// source file some_component.cpp

#include "some_component.hpp"

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'app::some_component' instances with 'hpx::new_<>()'
//
using some_component = app::some_component;
using some_component_type = hpx::components::component<some_component>;

// Please note that the second argument to this macro must be a
// (system-wide) unique C++-style identifier (without any namespaces)
//
HPX_REGISTER_COMPONENT(some_component_type, some_component);

// The parameters for this macro have to be the same as used in the corresponding
// HPX_REGISTER_ACTION_DECLARATION() macro invocation in the corresponding
// header file.
//
// Please note that the second argument to this macro must be a
// (system-wide) unique C++-style identifier (without any namespaces)
//
HPX_REGISTER_ACTION(app::some_component::some_member_action, some_component_some_action);

Defining client side representation classes

Often it is very convenient to define a separate type for a component which can be used on the client side (from where the component is instantiated and used). This step might seem as unnecessary duplicating code, however it significantly increases the type safety of the code.

A possible implementation of such a client side representation for the component described in the previous section could look like:

#include <hpx/include/components.hpp>

namespace app
{
    // Define a client side representation type for the component type
    // 'some_component' defined in the previous section.
    //
    struct some_component_client
      : hpx::components::client_base<some_component_client, some_component>
    {
        using base_type = hpx::components::client_base<
                some_component_client, some_component>;

        some_component_client(hpx::future<hpx::id_type> && id)
          : base_type(std::move(id))
        {}

        hpx::future<int> some_member_function(std::string const& s)
        {
            some_component::some_member_action act;
            return hpx::async(act, get_id(), s);
        }
    };
}

A client side object stores the global id of the component instance it represents. This global id is accessible by calling the function client_base<>::get_id(). The special constructor which is provided in the example allows to create this client side object directly using the API function hpx::new_.

Creating component instances

Instances of defined component types can be created in two different ways. If the component to create has a defined client side representation type, then this can be used, otherwise use the server type.

The following examples assume that some_component_type is the type of the server side implementation of the component to create. All additional arguments (see , ... notation below) are passed through to the corresponding constructor calls of those objects:

// create one instance on the given locality
hpx::id_type here = hpx::find_here();
hpx::future<hpx::id_type> f =
    hpx::new_<some_component_type>(here, ...);

// create one instance using the given distribution
// policy (here: hpx::colocating_distribution_policy)
hpx::id_type here = hpx::find_here();
hpx::future<hpx::id_type> f =
    hpx::new_<some_component_type>(hpx::colocated(here), ...);

// create multiple instances on the given locality
hpx::id_type here = find_here();
hpx::future<std::vector<hpx::id_type>> f =
    hpx::new_<some_component_type[]>(here, num, ...);

// create multiple instances using the given distribution
// policy (here: hpx::binpacking_distribution_policy)
hpx::future<std::vector<hpx::id_type>> f = hpx::new_<some_component_type[]>(
    hpx::binpacking(hpx::find_all_localities()), num, ...);

The examples below demonstrate the use of the same API functions for creating client side representation objects (instead of just plain ids). These examples assume that client_type is the type of the client side representation of the component type to create. As above, all additional arguments (see , ... notation below) are passed through to the corresponding constructor calls of the server side implementation objects corresponding to the client_type:

// create one instance on the given locality
hpx::id_type here = hpx::find_here();
client_type c = hpx::new_<client_type>(here, ...);

// create one instance using the given distribution
// policy (here: hpx::colocating_distribution_policy)
hpx::id_type here = hpx::find_here();
client_type c = hpx::new_<client_type>(hpx::colocated(here), ...);

// create multiple instances on the given locality
hpx::id_type here = hpx::find_here();
hpx::future<std::vector<client_type>> f =
    hpx::new_<client_type[]>(here, num, ...);

// create multiple instances using the given distribution
// policy (here: hpx::binpacking_distribution_policy)
hpx::future<std::vector<client_type>> f = hpx::new_<client_type[]>(
    hpx::binpacking(hpx::find_all_localities()), num, ...);

Using component instances

Segmented containers

In parallel programming, there is now a plethora of solutions aimed at implementing “partially contiguous” or segmented data structures, whether on shared memory systems or distributed memory systems. HPX implements such structures by drawing inspiration from Standard C++ containers.

Using segmented containers

A segmented container is a template class that is described in the namespace hpx. All segmented containers are very similar semantically to their sequential counterpart (defined in namespace std but with an additional template parameter named DistPolicy). The distribution policy is an optional parameter that is passed last to the segmented container constructor (after the container size when no default value is given, after the default value if not). The distribution policy describes the manner in which a container is segmented and the placement of each segment among the available runtime localities.

However, only a part of the std container member functions were reimplemented:

  • (constructor), (destructor), operator=
  • operator[]
  • begin, cbegin, end, cend
  • size

An example of how to use the partitioned_vector container would be:

#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(double);

// By default, the number of segments is equal to the current number of
// localities
//
hpx::partitioned_vector<double> va(50);
hpx::partitioned_vector<double> vb(50, 0.0);

An example of how to use the partitioned_vector container with distribution policies would be:

#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>
#include <hpx/runtime/find_localities.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(double);

std::size_t num_segments = 10;
std::vector<hpx::id_type> locs = hpx::find_all_localities()

auto layout =
        hpx::container_layout( num_segments, locs );

// The number of segments is 10 and those segments are spread across the
// localities collected in the variable locs in a Round-Robin manner
//
hpx::partitioned_vector<double> va(50, layout);
hpx::partitioned_vector<double> vb(50, 0.0, layout);

By definition, a segmented container must be accessible from any thread although its construction is synchronous only for the thread who has called its constructor. To overcome this problem, it is possible to assign a symbolic name to the segmented container:

#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(double);

hpx::future<void> fserver = hpx::async(
  [](){
    hpx::partitioned_vector<double> v(50);

    // Register the 'partitioned_vector' with the name "some_name"
    //
    v.register_as("some_name");

    /* Do some code  */
  });

hpx::future<void> fclient =
  hpx::async(
    [](){
      // Naked 'partitioned_vector'
      //
      hpx::partitioned_vector<double> v;

      // Now the variable v points to the same 'partitioned_vector' that has
      // been registered with the name "some_name"
      //
      v.connect_to("some_name");

      /* Do some code  */
    });

Segmented containers

HPX provides the following segmented containers:

Table 35 Sequence containers
Name Description In header Class page at cppreference.com
hpx::partitioned_vector Dynamic segmented contiguous array. <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp> vector
Table 36 Unordered associative containers
Name Description In header Class page at cppreference.com
hpx::unordered_map Segmented collection of key-value pairs, hashed by keys, keys are unique. <hpx/include/unordered_map.hpp> unordered_map

Segmented iterators and segmented iterator traits

The basic iterator used in the STL library is only suitable for one-dimensional structures. The iterators we use in HPX must adapt to the segmented format of our containers. Our iterators are then able to know when incrementing themselves if the next element of type T is in the same data segment or in another segment. In this second case, the iterator will automatically point to the beginning of the next segment.

Note

Note that the dereference operation operator * does not directly return a reference of type T& but an intermediate object wrapping this reference. When this object is used as an l-value, a remote write operation is performed; When this object is used as an r-value, implicit conversion to T type will take care of performing remote read operation.

It is sometimes useful not only to iterate element by element, but also segment by segment, or simply get a local iterator in order to avoid additional construction costs at each deferencing operations. To mitigate this need, the hpx::traits::segmented_iterator_traits are used.

With segmented_iterator_traits users can uniformly get the iterators which specifically iterates over segments (by providing a segmented iterator as a parameter), or get the local begin/end iterators of the nearest local segment (by providing a per-segment iterator as a parameter):

#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(double);

using iterator = hpx::partitioned_vector<T>::iterator;
using traits   = hpx::traits::segmented_iterator_traits<iterator>;

hpx::partitioned_vector<T> v;
std::size_t count = 0;

auto seg_begin = traits::segment(v.begin());
auto seg_end   = traits::segment(v.end());

// Iterate over segments
for (auto seg_it = seg_begin; seg_it != seg_end; ++seg_it)
{
    auto loc_begin = traits::begin(seg_it)
    auto loc_end   = traits::end(seg_it);

    // Iterate over elements inside segments
    for (auto lit = loc_begin; lit != loc_end; ++lit, ++count)
    {
        *lit = count;
    }
}

Which is equivalent to:

hpx::partitioned_vector<T> v;
std::size_t count = 0;

auto begin = v.begin();
auto end   = v.end();

for (auto it = begin; it != end; ++it, ++count)
{
    *it = count;
}

Using views

The use of multidimensional arrays is quite common in the numerical field whether to perform dense matrix operations or to process images. It exist many libraries which implement such object classes overloading their basic operators (e.g.``+``, -, *, (), etc.). However, such operation becomes more delicate when the underlying data layout is segmented or when it is mandatory to use optimized linear algebra subroutines (i.e. BLAS subroutines).

Our solution is thus to relax the level of abstraction by allowing the user to work not directly on n-dimensionnal data, but on “n-dimensionnal collections of 1-D arrays”. The use of well-accepted techniques on contiguous data is thus preserved at the segment level, and the composability of the segments is made possible thanks to multidimensional array-inspired access mode.

Preface: Why SPMD?

Although HPX refutes by design this programming model, the locality plays a dominant role when it comes to implement vectorized code. To maximize local computations and avoid unneeded data transfers, a parallel section (or Single Programming Multiple Data section) is required. Because the use of global variables is prohibited, this parallel section is created via the RAII idiom.

To define a parallel section, simply write an action taking a spmd_block variable as a first parameter:

#include <hpx/lcos/spmd_block.hpp>

void bulk_function(hpx::lcos::spmd_block block /* , arg0, arg1, ... */)
{
    // Parallel section

    /* Do some code */
}
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(bulk_function, bulk_action);

Note

In the following paragraphs, we will use the term “image” several times. An image is defined as a lightweight process whose entry point is a function provided by the user. It’s an “image of the function”.

The spmd_block class contains the following methods:

  • [def Team information] get_num_images, this_image, images_per_locality
  • [def Control statements] sync_all, sync_images

Here is a sample code summarizing the features offered by the spmd_block class:

#include <hpx/lcos/spmd_block.hpp>

void bulk_function(hpx::lcos::spmd_block block /* , arg0, arg1, ... */)
{
    std::size_t num_images = block.get_num_images();
    std::size_t this_image = block.this_image();
    std::size_t images_per_locality = block.images_per_locality();

    /* Do some code */

    // Synchronize all images in the team
    block.sync_all();

    /* Do some code */

    // Synchronize image 0 and image 1
    block.sync_images(0,1);

    /* Do some code */

    std::vector<std::size_t> vec_images = {2,3,4};

    // Synchronize images 2, 3 and 4
    block.sync_images(vec_images);

    // Alternative call to synchronize images 2, 3 and 4
    block.sync_images(vec_images.begin(), vec_images.end());

    /* Do some code */

    // Non-blocking version of sync_all()
    hpx::future<void> event =
        block.sync_all(hpx::launch::async);

    // Callback waiting for 'event' to be ready before being scheduled
    hpx::future<void> cb =
        event.then(
          [](hpx::future<void>)
          {

            /* Do some code */

          });

    // Finally wait for the execution tree to be finished
    cb.get();
}
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(bulk_test_function, bulk_test_action);

Then, in order to invoke the parallel section, call the function define_spmd_block specifying an arbitrary symbolic name and indicating the number of images per locality to create:

void bulk_function(hpx::lcos::spmd_block block, /* , arg0, arg1, ... */)
{

}
HPX_PLAIN_ACTION(bulk_test_function, bulk_test_action);

int main()
{
    /* std::size_t arg0, arg1, ...; */

    bulk_action act;
    std::size_t images_per_locality = 4;

    // Instanciate the parallel section
    hpx::lcos::define_spmd_block(
        "some_name", images_per_locality, std::move(act) /*, arg0, arg1, ... */);

    return 0;
}

Note

In principle, the user should never call the spmd_block constructor. The define_spmd_block function is responsible of instantiating spmd_block objects and broadcasting them to each created image.

SPMD multidimensional views

Some classes are defined as “container views” when the purpose is to observe and/or modify the values of a container using another perspective than the one that characterizes the container. For example, the values of an std::vector object can be accessed via the expression [i]. Container views can be used, for example, when it is desired for those values to be “viewed” as a 2D matrix that would have been flattened in a std::vector. The values would be possibly accessible via the expression vv(i,j) which would call internally the expression v[k].

By default, the partitioned_vector class integrates 1-D views of its segments:

#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(double);

using iterator = hpx::partitioned_vector<double>::iterator;
using traits   = hpx::traits::segmented_iterator_traits<iterator>;

hpx::partitioned_vector<double> v;

// Create a 1-D view of the vector of segments
auto vv = traits::segment(v.begin());

// Access segment i
std::vector<double> v = vv[i];

Our views are called “multidimensional” in the sense that they generalize to N dimensions the purpose of segmented_iterator_traits::segment() in the 1-D case. Note that in a parallel section, the 2-D expression a(i,j) = b(i,j) is quite confusing because without convention, each of the images invoked will race to execute the statement. For this reason, our views are not only multidimensional but also “spmd-aware”.

Note

SPMD-awareness: The convention is simple. If an assignment statement contains a view subscript as an l-value, it is only and only the image holding the r-value who is evaluating the statement. (In MPI sense, it is called a Put operation).

Subscript-based operations

Here are some examples of using subscripts in the 2-D view case:

#include <hpx/components/containers/partitioned_vector/partitioned_vector_view.hpp>
#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(double);

using Vec = hpx::partitioned_vector<double>;
using View_2D = hpx::partitioned_vector_view<double,2>;

/* Do some code */

Vec v;

// Parallel section (suppose 'block' an spmd_block instance)
{
    std::size_t height, width;

    // Instanciate the view
    View_2D vv(block, v.begin(), v.end(), {height,width});

    // The l-value is a view subscript, the image that owns vv(1,0)
    // evaluates the assignment.
    vv(0,1) = vv(1,0);

    // The l-value is a view subscript, the image that owns the r-value
    // (result of expression 'std::vector<double>(4,1.0)') evaluates the
    // assignment : oops! race between all participating images.
    vv(2,3) = std::vector<double>(4,1.0);
}
Iterator-based operations

Here are some examples of using iterators in the 3-D view case:

#include <hpx/components/containers/partitioned_vector/partitioned_vector_view.hpp>
#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(int);

using Vec = hpx::partitioned_vector<int>;
using View_3D = hpx::partitioned_vector_view<int,3>;

/* Do some code */

Vec v1, v2;

// Parallel section (suppose 'block' an spmd_block instance)
{
    std::size_t sixe_x, size_y, size_z;

    // Instanciate the views
    View_3D vv1(block, v1.begin(), v1.end(), {sixe_x,size_y,size_z});
    View_3D vv2(block, v2.begin(), v2.end(), {sixe_x,size_y,size_z});

    // Save previous segments covered by vv1 into segments covered by vv2
    auto vv2_it = vv2.begin();
    auto vv1_it = vv1.cbegin();

    for(; vv2_it != vv2.end(); vv2_it++, vv1_it++)
    {
        // It's a Put operation
        *vv2_it = *vv1_it;
    }

    // Ensure that all images have performed their Put operations
    block.sync_all();

    // Ensure that only one image is putting updated data into the different
    // segments covered by vv1
    if(block.this_image() == 0)
    {
        int idx = 0;

        // Update all the segments covered by vv1
        for(auto i = vv1.begin(); i != vv1.end(); i++)
        {
            // It's a Put operation
            *i = std::vector<float>(elt_size,idx++);
        }
    }
}

Here is an example that shows how to iterate only over segments owned by the current image:

#include <hpx/components/containers/partitioned_vector/partitioned_vector_view.hpp>
#include <hpx/components/containers/partitioned_vector/partitioned_vector_local_view.hpp>
#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(float);

using Vec = hpx::partitioned_vector<float>;
using View_1D = hpx::partitioned_vector_view<float,1>;

/* Do some code */

Vec v;

// Parallel section (suppose 'block' an spmd_block instance)
{
    std::size_t num_segments;

    // Instanciate the view
    View_1D vv(block, v.begin(), v.end(), {num_segments});

    // Instanciate the local view from the view
    auto local_vv = hpx::local_view(vv);

    for ( auto i = localvv.begin(); i != localvv.end(); i++ )
    {
        std::vector<float> & segment = *i;

        /* Do some code */
    }

}
Instanciating sub-views

It is possible to construct views from other views: we call it sub-views. The constraint nevertheless for the subviews is to retain the dimension and the value type of the input view. Here is an example showing how to create a sub-view:

#include <hpx/components/containers/partitioned_vector/partitioned_vector_view.hpp>
#include <hpx/include/partitioned_vector.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// remote creation of 'partitioned_vector' segments
//
HPX_REGISTER_PARTITIONED_VECTOR(float);

using Vec = hpx::partitioned_vector<float>;
using View_2D = hpx::partitioned_vector_view<float,2>;

/* Do some code */

Vec v;

// Parallel section (suppose 'block' an spmd_block instance)
{
    std::size_t N = 20;
    std::size_t tilesize = 5;

    // Instanciate the view
    View_2D vv(block, v.begin(), v.end(), {N,N});

    // Instanciate the subview
    View_2D svv(
        block,&vv(tilesize,0),&vv(2*tilesize-1,tilesize-1),{tilesize,tilesize},{N,N});

    if(block.this_image() == 0)
    {
        // Equivalent to 'vv(tilesize,0) = 2.0f'
        svv(0,0) = 2.0f;

        // Equivalent to 'vv(2*tilesize-1,tilesize-1) = 3.0f'
        svv(tilesize-1,tilesize-1) = 3.0f;
    }

}

Note

The last parameter of the subview constructor is the size of the original view. If one would like to create a subview of the subview and so on, this parameter should stay unchanged. {N,N} for the above example).

C++ co-arrays

Fortran has extended its scalar element indexing approach to reference each segment of a distributed array. In this extension, a segment is attributed a ?co-index? and lives in a specific locality. A co-index provides the application with enough information to retrieve the corresponding data reference. In C++, containers present themselves as a ?smarter? alternative of Fortran arrays but there are still no corresponding standardized features similar to the Fortran co-indexing approach. We present here an implementation of such features in HPX.

Preface: co-array, a segmented container tied to a SPMD multidimensional views

As mentioned before, a co-array is a distributed array whose segments are accessible through an array-inspired access mode. We have previously seen that it is possible to reproduce such access mode using the concept of views. Nevertheless, the user must pre-create a segmented container to instanciate this view. We illustrate below how a single constructor call can perform those two operations:

#include <hpx/components/containers/coarray/coarray.hpp>
#include <hpx/lcos/spmd_block.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// co-creation of 'coarray'
//
HPX_REGISTER_COARRAY(double);

// Parallel section (suppose 'block' an spmd_block instance)
{
    using hpx::container::placeholders::_;

    std::size_t height=32, width=4, segment_size=10;

    hpx::coarray<double,3> a(block, "a", {height,width,_}, segment_size);

    /* Do some code */
}

Unlike segmented containers, a co-array object can only be instantiated within a parallel section. Here is the description of the parameters to provide to the coarray constructor:

Table 37 Parameters of coarray constructor
Parameter Description
block Reference to a spmd_block object
"a" Symbolic name of type std::string
{height,width,_} Dimensions of the coarray object
segment_size Size of a co-indexed element (i.e. size of the object referenced by the expression a(i,j,k))

Note that the “last dimension size” cannot be set by the user. It only accepts the constexpr variable hpx::container::placeholders::_. This size, which is considered private, is equal to the number of current images (value returned by block.get_num_images()).

Note

An important constraint to remember about coarray objects is that all segments sharing the same “last dimension index” are located in the same image.

Using co-arrays

The member functions owned by the coarray objects are exactly the same as those of spmd multidimensional views. These are:

* Subscript-based operations
* Iterator-based operations

However, one additional functionality is provided. Knowing that the element a(i,j,k) is in the memory of the kth image, the use of local subscripts is possible.

Note

For spmd multidimensional views, subscripts are only global as it still involves potential remote data transfers.

Here is an example of using local subscripts:

#include <hpx/components/containers/coarray/coarray.hpp>
#include <hpx/lcos/spmd_block.hpp>

// The following code generates all necessary boiler plate to enable the
// co-creation of 'coarray'
//
HPX_REGISTER_COARRAY(double);

// Parallel section (suppose 'block' an spmd_block instance)
{
    using hpx::container::placeholders::_;

    std::size_t height=32, width=4, segment_size=10;

    hpx::coarray<double,3> a(block, "a", {height,width,_}, segment_size);

    double idx = block.this_image()*height*width;

    for (std::size_t j = 0; j<width; j++)
    for (std::size_t i = 0; i<height; i++)
    {
        // Local write operation performed via the use of local subscript
        a(i,j,_) = std::vector<double>(elt_size,idx);
        idx++;
    }

    block.sync_all();
}

Note

When the “last dimension index” of a subscript is equal to hpx::container::placeholders::_, local subscript (and not global subscript) is used. It is equivalent to a global subscript used with a “last dimension index” equal to the value returned by block.this_image().