LINPACK is a collection of Fortran subroutines that analyze and solve linear equations and linear least-squares problems. The package solves linear systems whose matrices are general, banded, symmetric indefinite, symmetric positive definite, triangular, and tridiagonal square. In addition, the package computes the QR and singular value decompositions of rectangular matrices and applies them to least-squares problems.
LINPACK is organized around four matrix factorizations: LU factorization, Cholesky factorization, QR factorization, and singular value decomposition. The term LU factorization is used here in a very general sense to mean the factorization of a square matrix into a lower triangular part and an upper triangular part, perhaps with pivoting.
LINPACK uses column-oriented algorithms to increase efficiency by preserving locality of reference. By column orientation we mean that the LINPACK codes always reference arrays down columns, not across rows. This works because Fortran stores arrays in column major order. Thus, as one proceeds down a column of an array, the memory references proceed sequentially in memory. On the other hand, as one proceeds across a row, the memory references jump across memory, the length of the jump being proportional to the length of a column. The effects of column orientation are quite dramatic: on systems with virtual or cache memories, the LINPACK codes will significantly outperform codes that are not column oriented. We note, however, that textbook examples of matrix algorithms are seldom column oriented.
Another important factor influencing the efficiency of LINPACK is the use of the Level 1 BLAS; there are three effects.
First, the overhead entailed in calling the BLAS reduces the efficiency of the code. This reduction is negligible for large matrices, but it can be quite significant for small matrices. The matrix size at which it becomes unimportant varies from system to system; for square matrices it is typically between and . If this seems like an unacceptably large overhead, remember that on many modern systems the solution of a system of order 25 or less is itself a negligible calculation. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that a person whose programs depend critically on solving small matrix problems in inner loops will be better off with BLAS-less versions of the LINPACK codes. Fortunately, the BLAS can be removed from the smaller, more frequently used program in a short editing session.
Second, the BLAS improve the efficiency of programs when they are run on nonoptimizing compilers. This is because doubly subscripted array references in the inner loop of the algorithm are replaced by singly subscripted array references in the appropriate BLAS. The effect can be seen for matrices of quite small order, and for large orders the savings are quite significant.
Finally, improved efficiency can be achieved by coding a set of BLAS  to take advantage of the special features of the computers on which LINPACK is being run. For most computers, this simply means producing machine-language versions. However, the code can also take advantage of more exotic architectural features, such as vector operations.
Further details about the BLAS are presented in Section 2.3.