Extending Numpy with C function

I am trying to speed up my Numpy code and decided that I wanted to implement one particular function where my code spent most of the time in C.

I'm actually a rookie in C, but I managed to write the function which normalizes every row in a matrix to sum to 1. I can compile it and I tested it with some data (in C) and it does what I want. At that point I was very proud of myself.

Now I'm trying to call my glorious function from Python where it should accept a 2d-Numpy array.

The various things I've tried are

  • SWIG

  • SWIG + numpy.i

  • ctypes

My function has the prototype

void normalize_logspace_matrix(size_t nrow, size_t ncol, double mat[nrow][ncol]);

So it takes a pointer to a variable-length array and modifies it in place.

I tried the following pure SWIG interface file:

%module c_utils

extern void normalize_logspace_matrix(size_t, size_t, double mat[*][*]);

extern void normalize_logspace_matrix(size_t, size_t, double** mat);

Then I would do (on Mac OS X 64bit):

> swig -python c-utils.i

> gcc -fPIC c-utils_wrap.c -o c-utils_wrap.o \
     -I/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/6.2/include/python2.6/ \
     -L/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/6.2/lib/python2.6/ -c
c-utils_wrap.c: In function ‘_wrap_normalize_logspace_matrix’:
c-utils_wrap.c:2867: warning: passing argument 3 of ‘normalize_logspace_matrix’ from   incompatible pointer type

> g++ -dynamiclib c-utils.o -o _c_utils.so

In Python I then get the following error on importing my module:

>>> import c_utils
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ImportError: dynamic module does not define init function (initc_utils)

Next I tried this approach using SWIG + numpy.i:

%module c_utils

#include "c-utils.h"
%include "numpy.i"
%init %{

%apply ( int DIM1, int DIM2, DATA_TYPE* INPLACE_ARRAY2 ) 
       {(size_t nrow, size_t ncol, double* mat)};

%include "c-utils.h"

However, I don't get any further than this:

> swig -python c-utils.i
c-utils.i:13: Warning 453: Can't apply (int DIM1,int DIM2,DATA_TYPE *INPLACE_ARRAY2). No typemaps are defined.

SWIG doesn't seem to find the typemaps defined in numpy.i, but I don't understand why, because numpy.i is in the same directory and SWIG doesn't complain that it can't find it.

With ctypes I didn't get very far, but got lost in the docs pretty quickly since I couldn't figure out how to pass it a 2d-array and then get the result back.

So could somebody show me the magic trick how to make my function available in Python/Numpy?


Unless you have a really good reason not to, you should use cython to interface C and python. (We are starting to use cython instead of raw C inside numpy/scipy themselves).

You can see a simple example in my scikits talkbox (since cython has improved quite a bit since then, I think you could write it better today).

def cslfilter(c_np.ndarray b, c_np.ndarray a, c_np.ndarray x):
    """Fast version of slfilter for a set of frames and filter coefficients.
    More precisely, given rank 2 arrays for coefficients and input, this

    for i in range(x.shape[0]):
        y[i] = lfilter(b[i], a[i], x[i])

    This is mostly useful for processing on a set of windows with variable
    filters, e.g. to compute LPC residual from a signal chopped into a set of

        b: array
            recursive coefficients
        a: array
            non-recursive coefficients
        x: array
            signal to filter


    This is a specialized function, and does not handle other types than
    double, nor initial conditions."""

    cdef int na, nb, nfr, i, nx
    cdef double *raw_x, *raw_a, *raw_b, *raw_y
    cdef c_np.ndarray[double, ndim=2] tb
    cdef c_np.ndarray[double, ndim=2] ta
    cdef c_np.ndarray[double, ndim=2] tx
    cdef c_np.ndarray[double, ndim=2] ty

    dt = np.common_type(a, b, x)

    if not dt == np.float64:
        raise ValueError("Only float64 supported for now")

    if not x.ndim == 2:
        raise ValueError("Only input of rank 2 support")

    if not b.ndim == 2:
        raise ValueError("Only b of rank 2 support")

    if not a.ndim == 2:
        raise ValueError("Only a of rank 2 support")

    nfr = a.shape[0]
    if not nfr == b.shape[0]:
        raise ValueError("Number of filters should be the same")

    if not nfr == x.shape[0]:
        raise ValueError, \
              "Number of filters and number of frames should be the same"

    tx = np.ascontiguousarray(x, dtype=dt)
    ty = np.ones((x.shape[0], x.shape[1]), dt)

    na = a.shape[1]
    nb = b.shape[1]
    nx = x.shape[1]

    ta = np.ascontiguousarray(np.copy(a), dtype=dt)
    tb = np.ascontiguousarray(np.copy(b), dtype=dt)

    raw_x = <double*>tx.data
    raw_b = <double*>tb.data
    raw_a = <double*>ta.data
    raw_y = <double*>ty.data

    for i in range(nfr):
        filter_double(raw_b, nb, raw_a, na, raw_x, nx, raw_y)
        raw_b += nb
        raw_a += na
        raw_x += nx
        raw_y += nx

    return ty

As you can see, besides the usual argument checking you would do in python, it is almost the same thing (filter_double is a function which can be written in pure C in a separate library if you want to). Of course, since it is compiled code, failing to check your argument will crash your interpreter instead of raising exception (there are several levels of safety vs speed tradeoffs available with recent cython, though).

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