[Rd] R problems with lapack with gfortran

Janne Blomqvist b|omqv|@t@j@nne @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Mon May 6 12:57:01 CEST 2019

On Mon, May 6, 2019 at 11:55 AM Tomas Kalibera <tomas.kalibera using gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/4/19 6:49 PM, Steve Kargl wrote:
> > On Sat, May 04, 2019 at 06:42:47PM +0200, Thomas König wrote:
> >>> - figure out Fortran2003 specification for C/Fortran interoperability
> >>> -- this _sounds_ like the right solution, but I don't think many
> >>> understand how to use it and what is implied (in particular, will
> >>> it require making changes to LAPACK itself?)
> >> That would actually be fairly easy.  If you declare the subroutines
> >> BIND(C), as in
> >>
> >>         subroutine foo(a,b) BIND(C,name="foo_")
> >>         real a
> >>         character*1 b
> >>         end
> >>
> >> you will get the calling signature that you already have in your C
> >> sources.
> >>
> >> This also has the advantage of being standards compliant, and would be
> >> probably be the preferred method.
> >>
> > With the caveat that one may need to use the VALUE attribute to
> > account for pass-by-value vs pass-by-reference.
> This seems clean solution, but as I said before not easy, because
> currently the tradition is to call the Fortran interface directly from C
> (not via any C wrappers). This means one could not substitute
> LAPACK/BLAS at dynamic linking time, unless all LAPACK/BLAS
> implementations agreed on such a C interface. Now the substitution is
> based on the original Fortran interface.
> In case of R, if we only used the included reference BLAS/LAPACK, we
> could do this, define our wrappers, say "c_dgemm" for "dgemm", change R
> to call via that interface, ask maintainers of all packages to change
> their code to call via their interface, and this should work with all
> Fortran 2003 compilers.
> But, R is often used also with optimized BLAS/LAPACK implementations
> that can be substituted at dynamic linking time. And there we could do
> nothing at R level to help: we cannot generate such wrappers for an
> existing LAPACK/BLAS implementation (we don't have the source code, the
> compiler, etc).
> It would be certainly a good thing if BLAS/LAPACK, with all
> implementation and uses, switched to a way that is compliant with
> current Fortran standard. But this should best start with the reference
> BLAS/LAPACK, continue with other BLAS/LAPACK implementations, and then
> with systems using those libraries, including R and its packages.
> Unless/before this happens, it would really be great if we could still
> use gfortran to build and use this fundamental software library.


I don't think modifying your own builtin LAPACK makes sense, as you
mention that would make R incompatible with another LAPACK provided by
the system. And modifying LAPACK upstream by adding BIND(C) wouldn't
work either, as that would break all the existing Fortran code calling
LAPACK (as LAPACK is F77-style implicit interfaces, the Fortran caller
has no knowledge of the interface and thus it must match the compiler
default Fortran ABI).

So the remaining place where this could be fixed would be in your C
prototypes for LAPACK functions, so that they match what LAPACK
expects. Arguably that's the correct approach anyway. I suppose for
this task extending the GFortran -fc-prototypes option to generate C
prototypes for external functions as well would help?

AFAICS, this interface mismatch problem affects other Fortran
compilers as well, just that by sheer luck this has worked mostly so
far (that is, other Fortran compilers also expect a hidden string
length argument, with no exception for length==1 strings). But with
increasingly sophisticated interprocedural optimizations such sins can
no longer be forgiven.

Janne Blomqvist

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