BLAST Forum MINUTES
March 16-18, 1999
Ramada Inn and Suites, Oak Ridge, TN
- Fifteen people attended the BLAST Forum in Oak Ridge, TN, on March
16-18, 1999. The meeting was hosted by the University of Tennessee.
Tuesday, March 16, 1999
The meeting began at 9:00am. Everyone introduced themselves and a draft
agenda was presented.
- 9:00am-11:00am Chapter 3 (Sparse BLAS)
- 11:00am-2:00pm Chapter 5 (Interval BLAS)
- 2:00pm-3:00pm Chapter 1 (Introduction)
- 3:00pm-4:00pm Chapter 2 (Dense and Band BLAS)
- 4:00pm-5:00pm Chapter 4 (Extended and Mixed Precision BLAS)
A move was taken to also include the beginning discussion of the model
implementations in this first day of the meeting.
At the opening of the meeting 8 eligible voters were present -- Sandia,
UT, NAG, UC Berkeley, NIST, HP/Convex, Notre Dame, and Mississippi State.
Mike Heroux took the floor to discuss Sparse BLAS chapter. There were
mostly minor editorial comments. All references to Fortran 90/95 should
be standardized to Fortran95.
- Section 3.1 comments. Need comment that the Fortran77 interface would look
like Fortran95 example. It was asked that a note
be included to specify which packages use certain
storage schemes, etc. Finite element methods.
- Section 3.2 comments. Need to add DOT, AXPBY, consistency in tables.
3rd column, GE, SY, etc.
- Section 3.3 comments. Need to specify ordered sets or non-ordered sets.
- Section 3.4 comments. 1-based for Fortran, 0-based for C.
Add integer for base in calling sequence.
- Section 3.5 Vote 8/0/0.
- Section 3.5.1 Vote 8/0/0.
- Section 3.5.2 Vote 8/0/0.
- Section 3.5.3 Vote 8/0/0.
- Section 3.6 Vote 8/0/0.
Comments. Module definitions should be moved to an Appendix. Why
is it called Annex instead of Appendix?
Debate for F95 interface. How to make it work if data
structure passed is assumed shape or assumed size. Mandate
a copy. Do not support array subsections. If we do a
forced data copy, then subsection will work. To be fully
f95 compliant, must force a copy. ISTAT=0 in F95 is not
legal, failure to create. Maybe 3 values for ISTAT.
Explicit value of ISTAT to force a copy. ISTAT < 0.
Modify 3.6 as amended.
- Section 3.7 Vote 8/0/0.
- Section 3.7.3 Vote 8/0/0.
- Section 3.8 comments. Adding text on creation routines, debate on sparse
triangular solve, allow side parameter?
A break was taken at 11am.
After the break, discussion began on model implementations. First, Andrew
Lumsdaine presented the MTL library, and how it could be used to produce
the model implementation.
A number of questions were raised:
- Should the reference implementation be generic and readable, or
performance oriented? We want a model implementation to
be portable. But since the model implementation of the BLAST document
wil be so large, will the vendors optimize it? Or should we provide a
reasonably optimal model implementation?
- Should we have one kernel implementation in C and then have wrappers
in Fortran77 and Fortran95 on top of this? Or three separate
- Testing software must test the numerics of the operations as well
as the interfaces. Numerical testing of the extended and mixed
precision BLAS is particularly complex.
- Consistency of model implementations for separate chapters?
It was felt that C++ language is volatile for a model implementation. As
MTL could also generate C code, this would be preferable. And what about
test code? As it stands, most of the testing in MTL are software engineering
tests. Numerical testing would need to be added.
A break was taken at 12:20pm.
Discussion continued at 1:30pm. Chao Yang of NEC arrived, and this
increased the number of eligible voters to 9.
Jim Demmel then presented his proposed implementation scheme for the BLAS
standard using m4. Numerical testing is a complex issue, particularly for
the extended and mixed precision BLAS. Should the BLAST forum deliver
"readable" source code or not?
A break was taken at 2:30pm.
Chenyi Hu had arrived and this brought our list of eligible voters to 10.
Chenyi then presented the revisions that had been made to the Interval BLAS
chapter since the "virtual" meeting and voting. Numerous suggestions were
made on revisions. Questions were raised about the meaning of the CONVERT
routines, and what is specified. Rename to round-out. Have convert and
roundout! We need an FPINFO_I routine, and the number of digits specified
in its interface. Some of this is being discussed in the Interval arithmetic
group and Fortran 2000. The format of the C bindings was discussed,
particularly the use of struct, and its impact on performance. All other
chapters have chosen to not use struct's in the implementation due to issues
of non-contiguous storage and thus performance. Two groups have agreed to do
model implementations in C++ and Fortran95. They have the TOMS package for
Fortran77 implementation. Jim had various ideas for test software for the
interval BLAS. Chenyi will incorporate the modifications and present them at
the meeting on the following day.
A break was taken at 3:45pm.
At 4pm, we then began the discussion of Chapter 1.
- Section 1.1 comments. Wordsmithing. Vote 10/0/0.
All remaining sections vote 10/0/0.
- In section 1.2 "Motivation", we need to add a
paragraph for each chapter. As it stands, it is too chapter 2--
centric. It was agreed that the authors of chapters 3, 4, and 5
would supply Susan with a paragraph motivating each chapter.
- In section 1.4.1, more notation should be added. And the table
of matrix types "GE, GB, etc" should be inserted here, as it
applies to several chapters.
- As a general rule it was decided that the intersection of information
pertaining to all chapters will be listed in Chapter 1, and the
union of this information will be moved to an Appendix. The Appendix
will be divided according to chapters.
- In section 1.4.2, the table of operator arguments specifying named
constants etc will be moved to the appendix, as well as the "Example"
text following it.
- Section 1.5 "Numerical Accuracy" will be rewritten for each chapter.
Jim will provide this rewrite to Susan.
- Section 1.6.1 "Scalar and Vector Operations", table 1.1, the absolute
value notation will be changed. Table 1.2 will be renamed to "Generate
Transformations". A forward reference will be inserted to specify that
the details of the data structures will be discussed in later sections.
- Section 1.6.2 "Matrix-Vector Operations" The storage of Q needs to be
specified, and horizontal lines must be added to table 1.5 for combine
- Section 1.6.4 "Environmental Enquiry" table removed. Only first
- Section 1.7 "Language Bindings". A note on the consideration of C++
and Java, and that these bindings will be considered in a later forum.
The meeting was adjourned at 5pm.
Wednesday, March 17, 1999
The meeting began at 9am with a summary of the previous day. A tentative
agenda for the day will be:
- Numerical Accuracy sections readings
- Reading of Chapter 2 (Dense and Band BLAS)
- Re-reading of Chapter 5 (with yesterday's revisions)
- Model Implementations
- JOD discussion
and then on Thursday, we will decide how to do the last re-working of the
document, and the announcement of the draft of the BLAST document.
Jim presented his proposed rewrites for the numerical accuracy sections for
chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Vote 10/0/0. He also briefly mentioned the
issue that the IEEE 754 standard does not agree with the wording in SLAMCH,
and this must be consistency. Will be discussed later.
At 10am, we then began the discussion of Chapter 2.
- Section 2.1 comments. Move GE GB table to Chapter 1.
- Section 2.1.1 comments. See appendix for definitions of vector norms Move
table of vector norms to appendix. Clarify abs value notation in
Table 2.1. Add third column to tables for DOT, NORM, names, etc.
- Section 2.1.2 comments. Add third column to tables. We need to define how Q is stored, Householder transformation, SLASR and SLARTV combine.
- Section 2.1.3 comments. Remove GBMVT from table 2.5. Table of matrix norms
moved to appendix. Add 4th column to tables 2.6, 2.7, 2.8.
- Section 2.1.4 is now Jim's new section.
Vote Section 2.1 10/0/0.
A break was taken at 11am.
After the break, discussion continued on Chapter 2.
- Section 2.2 comments. Section 2.2.1 we softened the sentence about must
not have a name conflict to should not.
Moved GB table to Chapter 1. Add a section after 2.2.1 to talk
about Aliasing, and a section entitled Matrix Storage Schemes. This
storage section will be from the C interface version, and all will
reference to it. The Aliasing section will say something like
"Correctness only if output arguments are not aliased (association
of arguments". In the subsection "Indexing" we should substitute
the word "index" instead of "displacement". Section 2.2.2, first
sentence deleted. Under "Design of Fortran95 interface" and
"data type" we deleted sentence in parentheses. The table of
arguments under "different argument lists" is deleted and forward
references added to table in page 27. Question about "x(ix)"
notation in "Assumed-shape arrays", will be addresed with multiple
instances discussion offline. In "Derived Types", the first
sentence is deleted. The "Operator arguments and CMACH values"
is moved to the Appendix. In the "Format of the Fortran95
bindings", remove verbosity of KIND,WP discussion. Add "default"
column to table of optional arguments, and add a label to the
table. In "Error Handling", we will have a global statement about
error handling in Chapter 1 to address all chapters. An error-
handling routine will be supplied and it shall check the consistency
of input dimensions.
- Section 2.2.3. Similar changes to Fortran 77 discussion as mentioned
for Fortran95 discussion. Under matrix storage schemes, we
will reference the main section, and specify that Fortran
interface only supports column-major.
- Section 2.2.4. Similar changes as discussed for Fortran 95 and
Fortran 77 sections. Rework beginning sentence about "most
platforms". Insert reference for gcc. Should we explicitly
say "overlapping" in aliasing discussion. Stronger statement
for aliasing? In "array arguments", we should explicitly say
that this means no 2-D array arguments in C. Similar text
moved to appendix. In "Format of the C bindings", error in
table of SCALAR specification. There must be a separate
spec for SCALAR IN and SCALAR IN/OUT.
- Section 2.3 comments. Add cross reference sections to "Overview".
Remove GBMVT. Corrections to bindings. Outstanding issues
for Jacobi routine, and multiple instances. PERMUTE routine
should permit negative INCP in Fortran77 interface.
Vote on Sections 2.3.1-2.3.6. 10/0/0.
A break was taken at 12:30pm.
We reconvened at 1:30pm and continued discussion of Chapter 2.
- Section 2.3.7 comments. Break GE,GB,SY,SB,SP,TR,TB,TP_ACC into
separate specifications. No TRANS allowed in GB,TR,TB,TP.
Remove HE,HB,HP_ACC specs.
- Section 2.3.8 comments. GBMM should have a SIDE argument. Delay
ORM discussion until clarification.
- Section 2.3.9 comments. GE_PERMUTE needs INCP in Fortran77 and C
- Remove sections 2.4 and 2.5. Brief note that they are to appear.
Nuke sections 2.6 and 2.7. A footnote instead on appropriate
A break was taken at 3:00pm.
We resumed at 3:30pm, and Chenyi presented the revisions to Chapter 5.
All bindings must be examined for questions of "empty intervals"., and minor
typographical corrections to various sections.
- Section 5.1.1 Vote 9/0/0.
- Section 5.1.2 Vote 9/0/0.
- Section 5.1.3 Vote 9/0/0.
- Section 5.2 comments. Add 3rd column to tables.
- Section 5.3 comments. Need to insert Numerical Accuracy section from
Jim. Section 5.3.4 is not ready for a vote.
Vote on section 5.3.1-5.3.3, 9/0/0.
- Section 5.4 comments. Add cross-references for overview sections.
Vote on 5.4.1, 9/0/0.
Vote on 5.4.2-5.4.9, 9/0/0.
- Section 5.4.10-11 comments. Discussion of empty intervals and how these
impact the bindings. All bindings should be examined for what
happens when an empty interval is encountered. Possibly return
a boolean LOGICAL to flag if empty was detected.
An empty interval propogates like a NaN.
No vote taken on sections 5.4.10-5.4.11.
- Section 5.4.13 comments. Need to add discussion of FPINFO_I. And add
reference the Interval BLAS webpage.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:15pm.
Thursday, March 18, 1999
The meeting began at 9:30am. The tentative agenda for the day will be:
- Error returns for language bindings, multiple instances summary, Jacobi
routine summary, and IEEE vs SLAMCH issue for Chapter 2.
- Reading of Chapter 4.
- Model Implementations
- Decide how to do last re-working
- JOD discussion
- Announcement of draft (May 31st to the world for comments?)
The tentative schedule for the BLAST document is as follows:
- April 14 -- Susan will have incorporated global changes to
Chapters 1-5, and then submit chapters to the authors
for specific revisions.
- May 15 -- Authors will return chapters to Susan
- May 31 -- Announcement of BLAST document on na.digest.
- August 1-31 -- last virtual meeting and commenting on chapters.
- Sept 1 -- publication of BLAST document (like MPI report, freely
Jim discussed Chapter 4 modifications. All F95 bindings will be suffixed
by _X to avoid confusion with Chapter 2. The default value for OPTIONAL
argument PREC was discussed. Section 4.6 is removed.
Vote on Chapter 4, 7/0/0.
A sentence needs to be added to Chapter 1 to emphasize that the goals for
Chapters 4 and 5 are different.
At 10:30am, the format of the proposed routine for applying multiple
Givens rotations (ORM) was discussed, as well as the format for the
Jacobi routine. The proposals will be checked with Linda before
inclusion. A discussion of error returns began. The major point
of contention was whether or not to allow a var args interface for the
C error-handling routine. Should we have compatible error return for
Fortran and C. Leave it the way it is, or change it? Or have both possible
error returns in C?
- BLAS_ERROR ( name, -info, string )
- BLAS_ERROR ( name, -info, string, ... ) has a variable number of
arguments, you can call with null.
Vote for #1 for both languages. 6/0/0. Names not clear. F_BLASERROR
Model implementations and test software were again discussed, as well as
the issue of profiling as done in MPI. It was proposed that a template for
GEMM in Fortran95, Fortran 77, and C be circulated to demonstrate how
leading comments should be done. And also, provide a template for how
the testing software should be organized. Portabililty and how the wrappers
should be done. Produce testing software incrementally? The testing
software is the major weight of the effort.
The consensus was that each chapter is responsible for its model
implementation. The quantity of routines and thus the time and resources
of producing a model implementation and test suite is formidable.
Jim Demmel and his m4 effort should continue to develop their model
implementation for Chapter 4, and Andrew Lumsdaine and his MTL library should
produce a model implementation. Using m4 and MTL to produce the model
implementations will be the quickest way. Readability will be sacrificed
as time and resources are the major constraints. Multiple efforts. Perhaps
use pretty printers to improve the format and readability of the generated
code. Macro processing must be used to produce the volume of routines.
The kernel should be written in C because some routines will need malloc,
but it was pointed out that it most convenient to write the complex arithmetic
routines in Fortran. It is not easy to see how the mixing of languages
will be avoided. It was suggested to produce the
C interface first and then concern with other languages and interfaces.
The meeting was adjourned at 1pm.
Attendees list for the March 16-18, 1999 BLAST Forum Meeting
Susan Blackford UT, Knoxville email@example.com
Jim Demmel UC Berkeley firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Dongarra UT / ORNL email@example.com
Sven Hammarling NAG, UK firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Heroux Sandia Nat Lab email@example.com
Jeff Horner UT firstname.lastname@example.org
Chenyi Hu UH-DT email@example.com
John Liu HP (MSG) firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Lumsdaine UND email@example.com
Antoine Petitet UT firstname.lastname@example.org
Roldan Pozo NIST email@example.com
Avi Purkayastha Miss State U. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremy Siek UND email@example.com
Clint Whaley UT, Knoxville firstname.lastname@example.org
Chao Yang NEC email@example.com
Susan Blackford agreed to take minutes for the meeting.