An initial intra-communicator MPI_COMM_WORLD of all processes the local process can communicate with after initialization (itself included) is defined once MPI_INIT has been called. In addition, the communicator MPI_COMM_SELF is provided, which includes only the process itself.
The predefined constant MPI_COMM_NULL is the value used for invalid communicator handles.
In a static-process-model implementation of MPI, all processes that participate in the computation are available after MPI is initialized. For this case, MPI_COMM_WORLD is a communicator of all processes available for the computation; this communicator has the same value in all processes. In an implementation of MPI where processes can dynamically join an MPI execution, it may be the case that a process starts an MPI computation without having access to all other processes. In such situations, MPI_COMM_WORLD is a communicator incorporating all processes with which the joining process can immediately communicate. Therefore, MPI_COMM_WORLD may simultaneously have different values in different processes.
All MPI implementations are required to provide the MPI_COMM_WORLD communicator. It cannot be deallocated during the life of a process. The group corresponding to this communicator does not appear as a pre-defined constant, but it may be accessed using MPI_COMM_GROUP (see below). MPI does not specify the correspondence between the process rank in MPI_COMM_WORLD and its (machine-dependent) absolute address. Neither does MPI specify the function of the host process, if any. Other implementation-dependent, predefined communicators may also be provided.