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Extending via Numba


The BitGenerators have been designed to be extendable using standard tools for high-performance Python – numba and Cython. The Generator object can also be used with user-provided BitGenerators as long as these export a small set of required functions.


Numba can be used with either CTypes or CFFI. The current iteration of the BitGenerators all export a small set of functions through both interfaces.

This example shows how numba can be used to produce gaussian samples using a pure Python implementation which is then compiled. The random numbers are provided by ctypes.next_double.

import numpy as np
import numba as nb

from numpy.random import PCG64
from timeit import timeit

bit_gen = PCG64()
next_d = bit_gen.cffi.next_double
state_addr = bit_gen.cffi.state_address

def normals(n, state):
    out = np.empty(n)
    for i in range((n + 1) // 2):
        x1 = 2.0 * next_d(state) - 1.0
        x2 = 2.0 * next_d(state) - 1.0
        r2 = x1 * x1 + x2 * x2
        while r2 >= 1.0 or r2 == 0.0:
            x1 = 2.0 * next_d(state) - 1.0
            x2 = 2.0 * next_d(state) - 1.0
            r2 = x1 * x1 + x2 * x2
        f = np.sqrt(-2.0 * np.log(r2) / r2)
        out[2 * i] = f * x1
        if 2 * i + 1 < n:
            out[2 * i + 1] = f * x2
    return out

# Compile using Numba
normalsj = nb.jit(normals, nopython=True)
# Must use state address not state with numba
n = 10000

def numbacall():
    return normalsj(n, state_addr)

rg = np.random.Generator(PCG64())

def numpycall():
    return rg.normal(size=n)

# Check that the functions work
r1 = numbacall()
r2 = numpycall()
assert r1.shape == (n,)
assert r1.shape == r2.shape

t1 = timeit(numbacall, number=1000)
print('{:.2f} secs for {} PCG64 (Numba/PCG64) gaussian randoms'.format(t1, n))
t2 = timeit(numpycall, number=1000)
print('{:.2f} secs for {} PCG64 (NumPy/PCG64) gaussian randoms'.format(t2, n))

Both CTypes and CFFI allow the more complicated distributions to be used directly in Numba after compiling the file distributions.c into a DLL or so. An example showing the use of a more complicated distribution is in the examples section below.


Cython can be used to unpack the PyCapsule provided by a BitGenerator. This example uses PCG64 and the example from above. The usual caveats for writing high-performance code using Cython – removing bounds checks and wrap around, providing array alignment information – still apply.

#!/usr/bin/env python
#cython: language_level=3
This file shows how the to use a BitGenerator to create a distribution.
import numpy as np
cimport numpy as np
cimport cython
from cpython.pycapsule cimport PyCapsule_IsValid, PyCapsule_GetPointer
from libc.stdint cimport uint16_t, uint64_t
from numpy.random cimport bitgen_t
from numpy.random import PCG64

def uniforms(Py_ssize_t n):
    Create an array of `n` uniformly distributed doubles.
    A 'real' distribution would want to process the values into
    some non-uniform distribution
    cdef Py_ssize_t i
    cdef bitgen_t *rng
    cdef const char *capsule_name = "BitGenerator"
    cdef double[::1] random_values

    x = PCG64()
    capsule = x.capsule
    # Optional check that the capsule if from a BitGenerator
    if not PyCapsule_IsValid(capsule, capsule_name):
        raise ValueError("Invalid pointer to anon_func_state")
    # Cast the pointer
    rng = <bitgen_t *> PyCapsule_GetPointer(capsule, capsule_name)
    random_values = np.empty(n, dtype='float64')
    with x.lock, nogil:
        for i in range(n):
            # Call the function
            random_values[i] = rng.next_double(rng.state)
    randoms = np.asarray(random_values)

    return randoms

The BitGenerator can also be directly accessed using the members of the basic RNG structure.

def uint10_uniforms(Py_ssize_t n):
    """Uniform 10 bit integers stored as 16-bit unsigned integers"""
    cdef Py_ssize_t i
    cdef bitgen_t *rng
    cdef const char *capsule_name = "BitGenerator"
    cdef uint16_t[::1] random_values
    cdef int bits_remaining
    cdef int width = 10
    cdef uint64_t buff, mask = 0x3FF

    x = PCG64()
    capsule = x.capsule
    if not PyCapsule_IsValid(capsule, capsule_name):
        raise ValueError("Invalid pointer to anon_func_state")
    rng = <bitgen_t *> PyCapsule_GetPointer(capsule, capsule_name)
    random_values = np.empty(n, dtype='uint16')
    # Best practice is to release GIL and acquire the lock
    bits_remaining = 0
    with x.lock, nogil:
        for i in range(n):
            if bits_remaining < width:
                buff = rng.next_uint64(rng.state)
            random_values[i] = buff & mask
            buff >>= width

    randoms = np.asarray(random_values)
    return randoms

See Extending numpy.random via Cython for a complete working example including a minimal setup and cython files.


CFFI can be used to directly access the functions in include/numpy/random/distributions.h. Some “massaging” of the header file is required:

Use cffi to access any of the underlying C functions from distributions.h
import os
import numpy as np
import cffi
from .parse import parse_distributions_h
ffi = cffi.FFI()

inc_dir = os.path.join(np.get_include(), 'numpy')

# Basic numpy types
    typedef intptr_t npy_intp;
    typedef unsigned char npy_bool;


parse_distributions_h(ffi, inc_dir)

Once the header is parsed by ffi.cdef, the functions can be accessed directly from the _generator shared object, using the BitGenerator.cffi interface.

# Compare the distributions.h random_standard_normal_fill to
# Generator.standard_random
bit_gen = np.random.PCG64()
rng = np.random.Generator(bit_gen)
state = bit_gen.state

interface = rng.bit_generator.cffi
n = 100
vals_cffi ='double[%d]' % n)
lib.random_standard_normal_fill(interface.bit_generator, n, vals_cffi)

# reset the state
bit_gen.state = state

vals = rng.standard_normal(n)

for i in range(n):
    assert vals[i] == vals_cffi[i]

New Basic RNGs

Generator can be used with other user-provided BitGenerators. The simplest way to write a new BitGenerator is to examine the pyx file of one of the existing BitGenerators. The key structure that must be provided is the capsule which contains a PyCapsule to a struct pointer of type bitgen_t,

typedef struct bitgen {
  void *state;
  uint64_t (*next_uint64)(void *st);
  uint32_t (*next_uint32)(void *st);
  double (*next_double)(void *st);
  uint64_t (*next_raw)(void *st);
} bitgen_t;

which provides 5 pointers. The first is an opaque pointer to the data structure used by the BitGenerators. The next three are function pointers which return the next 64- and 32-bit unsigned integers, the next random double and the next raw value. This final function is used for testing and so can be set to the next 64-bit unsigned integer function if not needed. Functions inside Generator use this structure as in