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Programming language: Haskell
License: Apache License 2.0
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Latest version: v0.5.1.2

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MPI bindings for Haskell


MPI (the Message Passing Interface) is widely used standard for distributed-memory programming on HPC (High Performance Computing) systems. MPI allows exchanging data (messages) between programs running in parallel. There are several high-quality open source MPI implementations (e.g. MPICH, MVAPICH, OpenMPI) as well as a variety of closed-source implementations. These libraries can typically make use of high-bandwidth low-latency communication hardware such as InfiniBand.

This library mpi-hs provides Haskell bindings for MPI. It is based on ideas taken from haskell-mpi, Boost.MPI, and MPI for Python.

mpi-hs provides two API levels: A low-level API gives rather direct access to the MPI API, apart from certain "reasonable" mappings from C to Haskell (e.g. output arguments that are in C stored to a pointer are in Haskell regular return values). A high-level API simplifies exchanging arbitrary values that can be serialized.


This is a typical MPI C code:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <mpi.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
  MPI_Init(&argc, &argv);
  int rank, size;
  MPI_Comm_rank(MPI_COMM_WORLD, &rank);
  MPI_Comm_size(MPI_COMM_WORLD, &size);
  printf("This is process %d of %d\n", rank, size);
  return 0;

The Haskell equivalent looks like this:

import Control.Distributed.MPI as MPI

main :: IO ()
main =
  do MPI.init
     rank <- MPI.commRank MPI.commWorld
     size <- MPI.commSize MPI.commWorld
     putStrLn $ "This is process " ++ show rank ++ " of " ++ show size


mpi-hs requires an external MPI library to be available on the system. How to install such a library is beyond the scope of these instructions.

<!--- (It is important that the MPI library's include files, libraries, and executables are installed consistently. A common source of problems is that there are several MPI implementations available on a system, and that the default include file mpi.h, the library libmpi.a, and/or the executable mpirun are provided by different implementations. This will lead to various problems, often segfaults, since neither the operating system nor these libraries provide any protection against such a mismatch.) -->

In some cases, the MPI library will be installed in /usr/include, /usr/lib, and /usr/bin, respectively. In this case, no further configuration is necessary, and mpi-hs will build out of the box with stack build.

For convenience, this package offers Cabal flags to handle several common cases where the MPI library is not installed in a standard location:

  • OpenMPI on Debian Linux (package openmpi-dev): use --flag mpi-hs:openmpi-debian
  • OpenMPI on Ubuntu Linux (package openmpi-dev): use --flag mpi-hs:openmpi-ubuntu
  • OpenMPI on macOS with MacPorts (package openmpi): use --flag mpi-hs:openmpi-macports
  • MPICH on Ubuntu Linux (package openmpi-dev): use --flag mpi-hs:mpich-ubuntu
  • MPICH on macOS with MacPorts (package openmpi): use --flag mpi-hs:mpich-macports

For example, using the MPICH MPI implementation installed via MacPorts on macOS, you build mpi-hs like this:

stack build --flag mpi-hs:mpich-macports

In the general case, if your MPI library/operating system combination is not supported by a Cabal flag, you need to describe the location of your MPI library in stack.yaml. This might look like:

  - /usr/lib/openmpi/include
  - /usr/lib/openmpi/lib

Testing the MPI installation with a C program

To test your MPI installation independently of using Haskell, copy the example MPI C code into a file mpi-example.c, and run these commands:

cc -I/usr/lib/openmpi/include -c mpi-example.c
cc -o mpi-example mpi-example.o -L/usr/lib/openmpi/lib -lmpi
mpirun -np 3 ./mpi-example

All three commands must complete without error, and the last command must output something like

This is process 0 of 3
This is process 1 of 3
This is process 2 of 3

where the order in which the lines are printed can be random. (The output might even be jumbled, i.e. the characters of the three lines might be mixed up.)

If these commands do not work, then this needs to be corrected before mpi-hs can work. If additional compiler options or libraries are needed, then these need to be added to the stack.yaml configuration file (for include and library paths; see extra-include-dirs and extra-lib-dirs there) or the package.yaml configuration file (for additional libraries; see extra-libraries there).

Examples and Tests

Running the example

To run the example provided in src/Main.hs:

stack build
mpiexec -n 3 stack exec example

Running the tests

There are four test cases provided in tests:

stack build --test --no-run-tests
mpiexec -n 3 stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test/mpi-test
mpiexec -n 3 stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test-storable/mpi-test-storable

mpirun-openmpi-mp -np 3 --mca btl self,vader --oversubscribe stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test/mpi-test && echo SUCCESS || echo FAILURE
mpirun-openmpi-mp -np 3 --mca btl self,vader --oversubscribe stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test-binary/mpi-test-binary && echo SUCCESS || echo FAILURE
mpirun-openmpi-mp -np 3 --mca btl self,vader --oversubscribe stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test-serialize/mpi-test-serialize && echo SUCCESS || echo FAILURE
mpirun-openmpi-mp -np 3 --mca btl self,vader --oversubscribe stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test-storable/mpi-test-storable && echo SUCCESS || echo FAILURE
mpirun-openmpi-mp -np 3 --mca btl self,vader --oversubscribe stack exec -- $(stack path --dist-dir)/build/mpi-test-store/mpi-test-store && echo SUCCESS || echo FAILURE