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Scientific Programming
Volume 5 (1996), Issue 4, Pages 329-336

The Design of Data-Structure-Neutral Libraries for the Iterative Solution of Sparse Linear Systems

Barry F. Smith and William D. Gropp

Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Ave., Argonne, IL 60439-4844, USA

Received 23 March 1995; Accepted 23 February 1996

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the past few years several proposals have been made for the standardization of sparse matrix storage formats in order to allow for the development of portable matrix libraries for the iterative solution of linear systems. We believe that this is the wrong approach. Rather than define one standard (or a small number of standards) for matrix storage, the community should define an interface (i.e., the calling sequences) for the functions that act on the data. In addition, we cannot ignore the interface to the vector operations because, in many applications, vectors may not be stored as consecutive elements in memory. With the acceptance of shared memory, distributed memory, and cluster memory parallel machines, the flexibility of the distribution of the elements of vectors is also extremely important. This issue is ignored in most proposed standards. In this article we demonstrate how such libraries may be written using data encapsulation techniques.