Three ways to wrap - getting started#
Wrapping Fortran or C functions to Python using F2PY consists of the following steps:
Creating the so-called signature file that contains descriptions of wrappers to Fortran or C functions, also called the signatures of the functions. For Fortran routines, F2PY can create an initial signature file by scanning Fortran source codes and tracking all relevant information needed to create wrapper functions.
Optionally, F2PY-created signature files can be edited to optimize wrapper functions, which can make them “smarter” and more “Pythonic”.
F2PY reads a signature file and writes a Python C/API module containing Fortran/C/Python bindings.
F2PY compiles all sources and builds an extension module containing the wrappers.
In building the extension modules, F2PY uses
numpy_distutilswhich supports a number of Fortran 77/90/95 compilers, including Gnu, Intel, Sun Fortran, SGI MIPSpro, Absoft, NAG, Compaq etc. For different build systems, see F2PY and Build Systems.
Depending on the situation, these steps can be carried out in a single composite command or step-by-step; in which case some steps can be omitted or combined with others.
Below, we describe three typical approaches of using F2PY. These can be read in order of increasing effort, but also cater to different access levels depending on whether the Fortran code can be freely modified.
The following example Fortran 77 code will be used for
illustration, save it as
C FILE: FIB1.F SUBROUTINE FIB(A,N) C C CALCULATE FIRST N FIBONACCI NUMBERS C INTEGER N REAL*8 A(N) DO I=1,N IF (I.EQ.1) THEN A(I) = 0.0D0 ELSEIF (I.EQ.2) THEN A(I) = 1.0D0 ELSE A(I) = A(I-1) + A(I-2) ENDIF ENDDO END C END FILE FIB1.F
F2PY parses Fortran/C signatures to build wrapper functions to be used with Python. However, it is not a compiler, and does not check for additional errors in source code, nor does it implement the entire language standards. Some errors may pass silently (or as warnings) and need to be verified by the user.
The quick way#
The quickest way to wrap the Fortran subroutine
FIB for use in Python is to
python -m numpy.f2py -c fib1.f -m fib1
or, alternatively, if the
f2py command-line tool is available,
f2py -c fib1.f -m fib1
f2py command might not be available in all system, notably on
Windows, we will use the
python -m numpy.f2py command throughout this
This command compiles and wraps
-c) to create the extension
-m) in the current directory. A list of command line
options can be seen by executing
python -m numpy.f2py. Now, in Python the
FIB is accessible via
>>> import numpy as np >>> import fib1 >>> print(fib1.fib.__doc__) fib(a,[n]) Wrapper for ``fib``. Parameters ---------- a : input rank-1 array('d') with bounds (n) Other Parameters ---------------- n : input int, optional Default: len(a) >>> a = np.zeros(8, 'd') >>> fib1.fib(a) >>> print(a) [ 0. 1. 1. 2. 3. 5. 8. 13.]
Note that F2PY recognized that the second argument
nis the dimension of the first array argument
a. Since by default all arguments are input-only arguments, F2PY concludes that
ncan be optional with the default value
One can use different values for optional
>>> a1 = np.zeros(8, 'd') >>> fib1.fib(a1, 6) >>> print(a1) [ 0. 1. 1. 2. 3. 5. 0. 0.]
but an exception is raised when it is incompatible with the input array
>>> fib1.fib(a, 10) Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module> fib.error: (len(a)>=n) failed for 1st keyword n: fib:n=10 >>>
F2PY implements basic compatibility checks between related arguments in order to avoid unexpected crashes.
Otherwise, F2PY makes a contiguous copy (with the proper
dtype) of the input array and passes a C pointer of the copy to the Fortran subroutine. As a result, any possible changes to the (copy of) input array have no effect on the original argument, as demonstrated below:
>>> a = np.ones(8, 'i') >>> fib1.fib(a) >>> print(a) [1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1]
Clearly, this is unexpected, as Fortran typically passes by reference. That the above example worked with
dtype=floatis considered accidental.
F2PY provides an
intent(inplace)attribute that modifies the attributes of an input array so that any changes made by the Fortran routine will be reflected in the input argument. For example, if one specifies the
intent(inplace) adirective (see Attributes for details), then the example above would read:
>>> a = np.ones(8, 'i') >>> fib1.fib(a) >>> print(a) [ 0. 1. 1. 2. 3. 5. 8. 13.]
However, the recommended way to have changes made by Fortran subroutine propagate to Python is to use the
intent(out)attribute. That approach is more efficient and also cleaner.
The usage of
fib1.fibin Python is very similar to using
FIBin Fortran. However, using in situ output arguments in Python is poor style, as there are no safety mechanisms in Python to protect against wrong argument types. When using Fortran or C, compilers discover any type mismatches during the compilation process, but in Python the types must be checked at runtime. Consequently, using in situ output arguments in Python may lead to difficult to find bugs, not to mention the fact that the codes will be less readable when all required type checks are implemented.
Though the approach to wrapping Fortran routines for Python discussed so far is very straightforward, it has several drawbacks (see the comments above). The drawbacks are due to the fact that there is no way for F2PY to determine the actual intention of the arguments; that is, there is ambiguity in distinguishing between input and output arguments. Consequently, F2PY assumes that all arguments are input arguments by default.
There are ways (see below) to remove this ambiguity by “teaching” F2PY about the true intentions of function arguments, and F2PY is then able to generate more explicit, easier to use, and less error prone wrappers for Fortran functions.
The smart way#
If we want to have more control over how F2PY will treat the interface to our Fortran code, we can apply the wrapping steps one by one.
First, we create a signature file from
python -m numpy.f2py fib1.f -m fib2 -h fib1.pyf
The signature file is saved to
-hflag) and its contents are shown below.
! -*- f90 -*- python module fib2 ! in interface ! in :fib2 subroutine fib(a,n) ! in :fib2:fib1.f real*8 dimension(n) :: a integer optional,check(len(a)>=n),depend(a) :: n=len(a) end subroutine fib end interface end python module fib2 ! This file was auto-generated with f2py (version:2.28.198-1366). ! See http://cens.ioc.ee/projects/f2py2e/
Next, we’ll teach F2PY that the argument
nis an input argument (using the
intent(in)attribute) and that the result, i.e., the contents of
aafter calling the Fortran function
FIB, should be returned to Python (using the
intent(out)attribute). In addition, an array
ashould be created dynamically using the size determined by the input argument
depend(n)attribute to indicate this dependence relation).
The contents of a suitably modified version of
fib2.pyf) are as follows:
! -*- f90 -*- python module fib2 interface subroutine fib(a,n) real*8 dimension(n),intent(out),depend(n) :: a integer intent(in) :: n end subroutine fib end interface end python module fib2
Finally, we build the extension module with
python -m numpy.f2py -c fib2.pyf fib1.f
>>> import fib2 >>> print(fib2.fib.__doc__) a = fib(n) Wrapper for ``fib``. Parameters ---------- n : input int Returns ------- a : rank-1 array('d') with bounds (n) >>> print(fib2.fib(8)) [ 0. 1. 1. 2. 3. 5. 8. 13.]
The signature of
fib2.fibnow more closely corresponds to the intention of the Fortran subroutine
FIB: given the number
fib2.fibreturns the first
nFibonacci numbers as a NumPy array. The new Python signature
fib2.fibalso rules out the unexpected behaviour in
Note that by default, using a single
intent(hide). Arguments that have the
intent(hide)attribute specified will not be listed in the argument list of a wrapper function.
For more details, see Signature file.
The quick and smart way#
The “smart way” of wrapping Fortran functions, as explained above, is suitable for wrapping (e.g. third party) Fortran codes for which modifications to their source codes are not desirable nor even possible.
However, if editing Fortran codes is acceptable, then the generation of an
intermediate signature file can be skipped in most cases. F2PY specific
attributes can be inserted directly into Fortran source codes using F2PY
directives. A F2PY directive consists of special comment lines (starting with
!f2py, for example) which are ignored by Fortran compilers but
interpreted by F2PY as normal lines.
Consider a modified version of the previous Fortran code with F2PY directives,
C FILE: FIB3.F SUBROUTINE FIB(A,N) C C CALCULATE FIRST N FIBONACCI NUMBERS C INTEGER N REAL*8 A(N) Cf2py intent(in) n Cf2py intent(out) a Cf2py depend(n) a DO I=1,N IF (I.EQ.1) THEN A(I) = 0.0D0 ELSEIF (I.EQ.2) THEN A(I) = 1.0D0 ELSE A(I) = A(I-1) + A(I-2) ENDIF ENDDO END C END FILE FIB3.F
Building the extension module can be now carried out in one command:
python -m numpy.f2py -c -m fib3 fib3.f
Notice that the resulting wrapper to
FIB is as “smart” (unambiguous) as in
the previous case:
>>> import fib3 >>> print(fib3.fib.__doc__) a = fib(n) Wrapper for ``fib``. Parameters ---------- n : input int Returns ------- a : rank-1 array('d') with bounds (n) >>> print(fib3.fib(8)) [ 0. 1. 1. 2. 3. 5. 8. 13.]