Abstractions to separate concerns in semi-regular grids

Andrew Stone, Michelle Mills Strout

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In various applications including atmospheric and ocean simulation programs, stencil computations occur on semi-regular grids where subdomains of the grid are regular (e.g., can be stored in an array) but boundaries between sub-domains connect in an irregular fashion. Implementations of stencils on semi-regular grids often have grid topology details tangled with stencil computation code. This tangling of details makes updating stencil code difficult as it requires the programmer to have full knowledge of the current grid topology. Existing libraries and tools for separating the concerns of stencil computations from grid connectivity have not dealt with semi-regular grids and instead have focused on purely regular grids with possible periodicity or purely irregular grids. In this paper we introduce programming abstractions for the class of semi-regular grids and describe a prototype Fortran 90+ library called GridLib that implements these abstractions. Implementing these abstractions requires solving issues involving nodes in the grid with a non-standard number of neighbors and determining the communication schedule given an orthogonal specification of the grid decomposition. We present solutions to these issues that work within the context of grids used in atmospheric and ocean simulations. We also show that to maintain the performance while still providing this separation of concerns, it is necessary for a source-to-source translator to perform inlining between user code and the GridLib run-time library code. We present performance results for a stencil computation extracted from the Parallel Ocean Program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationICS 2013 - Proceedings of the 2013 ACM International Conference on Supercomputing
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event27th ACM International Conference on Supercomputing, ICS 2013 - Eugene, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2013Jun 14 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Conference on Supercomputing


Other27th ACM International Conference on Supercomputing, ICS 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityEugene, OR


  • atmospheric science
  • compilers
  • domain-specific languages
  • earth simulation
  • high-performance computing
  • parallel programming
  • programming models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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