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JuliaArrays / StaticArrays.jl


Statically sized arrays for Julia 0.5



Statically sized arrays for Julia

StaticArrays Build Status Build status Coverage Status

StaticArrays provides a framework for implementing statically sized arrays in Julia (≥ 0.5), using the abstract type StaticArray{Size,T,N} <: AbstractArray{T,N}. Subtypes of StaticArray will provide fast implementations of common array and linear algebra operations. Note that here "statically sized" means that the size can be determined from the type, and "static" does not necessarily imply immutable.

The package also provides some concrete static array types: SVector, SMatrix and SArray, which may be used as-is (or else embedded in your own type). Mutable versions MVector, MMatrix and MArray are also exported, as well as SizedArray for annotating standard Arrays with static size information. Further, the abstract FieldVector can be used to make fast StaticVectors out of any uniform Julia "struct".


The speed of small SVectors, SMatrixs and SArrays is often > 10 × faster than Base.Array. See this simplified benchmark (or see the full results here):

    Benchmarks for 3×3 Float64 matrices

Matrix multiplication               -> 8.2x speedup
Matrix multiplication (mutating)    -> 3.1x speedup
Matrix addition                     -> 45x speedup
Matrix addition (mutating)          -> 5.1x speedup
Matrix determinant                  -> 170x speedup
Matrix inverse                      -> 125x speedup
Matrix symmetric eigendecomposition -> 82x speedup
Matrix Cholesky decomposition       -> 23.6x speedup

These results improve significantly when using julia -O3 with immutable static arrays, as the extra optimization results in surprisingly good SIMD code.

Note that in the current implementation, working with large StaticArrays puts a lot of stress on the compiler, and becomes slower than Base.Array as the size increases. A very rough rule of thumb is that you should consider using a normal Array for arrays larger than 100 elements. For example, the performance crossover point for a matrix multiply microbenchmark seems to be about 11x11 in julia 0.5 with default optimizations.

Quick start

Pkg.add("StaticArrays")  # or Pkg.clone("")
using StaticArrays

# Create an SVector using various forms, using constructors, functions or macros
v1 = SVector(1, 2, 3) === (1, 2, 3) # SVector uses a tuple for internal storage
v2 = SVector{3,Float64}(1, 2, 3) # length 3, eltype Float64
v3 = @SVector [1, 2, 3]
v4 = @SVector [i^2 for i = 1:10] # arbitrary comprehensions (range is evaluated at global scope)
v5 = zeros(SVector{3}) # defaults to Float64
v6 = @SVector zeros(3)
v7 = SVector{3}([1, 2, 3]) # Array conversions must specify size

# Can get size() from instance or type
size(v1) == (3,)
size(typeof(v1)) == (3,)

# Similar constructor syntax for matrices
m1 = SMatrix{2,2}(1, 2, 3, 4) # flat, column-major storage, equal to m2:
m2 = @SMatrix [ 1  3 ;
                2  4 ]
m3 = eye(SMatrix{3,3})
m4 = @SMatrix randn(4,4)
m5 = SMatrix{2,2}([1 3 ; 2 4]) # Array conversions must specify size

# Higher-dimensional support
a = @SArray randn(2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2)

# Supports all the common operations of AbstractArray
v7 = v1 + v2
v8 = sin.(v3)
v3 == m3 * v3 # recall that m3 = eye(SMatrix{3,3})
# map, reduce, broadcast, map!, broadcast!, etc...

# Indexing can also be done using static arrays of integers
v1[1] === 1
v1[SVector(3,2,1)] === @SVector [3, 2, 1]
v1[:] === v1
typeof(v1[[1,2,3]]) <: Vector # Can't determine size from the type of [1,2,3]

# Is (partially) hooked into BLAS, LAPACK, etc:
rand(MMatrix{20,20}) * rand(MMatrix{20,20}) # large matrices can use BLAS
eig(m3) # eig(), etc uses specialized algorithms up to 3×3, or else LAPACK

# Static arrays stay statically sized, even when used by Base functions, etc:
typeof(eig(m3)) == Tuple{SVector{3,Float64}, SMatrix{3,3,Float64,9}}

# similar() returns a mutable container, while similar_type() returns a constructor:
typeof(similar(m3)) == MMatrix{3,3,Float64,9} # (final parameter is length = 9)
similar_type(m3) == SMatrix{3,3,Float64,9}

# The Size trait is a compile-time constant representing the size
Size(m3) === Size(3,3)

# A standard Array can be wrapped into a SizedArray
m4 = Size(3,3)(rand(3,3))
inv(m4) # Take advantage of specialized fast methods

# reshape() uses Size() or types to specify size:
reshape([1,2,3,4], Size(2,2)) == @SMatrix [ 1  3 ;
                                            2  4 ]
typeof(reshape([1,2,3,4], Size(2,2))) === SizedArray{(2, 2),Int64,2,1}


The package provides an range of different useful built-in StaticArray types, which include mutable and immutable arrays based upon tuples, arrays based upon structs, and wrappers of Array. There is a relatively simple interface for creating your own, custom StaticArray types, too.

This package also provides methods for a wide range of AbstractArray functions, specialized for (potentially immutable) StaticArrays. Many of Julia's built-in method definitions inherently assume mutability, and further performance optimizations may be made when the size of the array is know to the compiler. One example of this is by loop unrolling, which has a substantial effect on small arrays and tends to automatically triger LLVM's SIMD optimizations. Another way performance is boosted is by providing specialized methods for det, inv, eig and chol where the algorithm depends on the precise dimensions of the input. In combination with intelligent fallbacks to the methods in Base, we seek to provide a comprehensive support for statically sized arrays, large or small, that hopefully "just works".

API Details

The Size trait

The size of a statically sized array is a static parameter associated with the type of the array. The Size trait is provided as an abstract representation of the dimensions of a static array. An array sa::SA of size (dims...) is associated with Size{(dims...)}(). The following are equivalent (@pure) constructors:

Size(SA) # SA <: StaticArray

This is extremely useful for (a) performing dispatch depending on the size of an array, and (b) passing array dimensions that the compiler can reason about.

An example of size-based dispatch for the determinant of a matrix would be:

det(x::StaticMatrix) = _det(Size(x), x)
_det(::Size{(1,1)}, x::StaticMatrix) = x[1,1]
_det(::Size{(2,2)}, x::StaticMatrix) = x[1,1]*x[2,2] - x[1,2]*x[2,1]
# and other definitions as necessary

Examples of using Size as a compile-time constant include

reshape(svector, Size(2,2))  # Convert SVector{4} to SMatrix{2,2}
Size(3,3)(rand(3,3))         # Construct a random 3×3 SizedArray (see below)


Statically sized indexing can be realized by indexing each dimension by a scalar, a StaticVector or :. Indexing in this way will result a statically sized array (even if the input was dynamically sized, in the case of StaticVector indices) of the closest type (as defined by similar_type).

Conversely, indexing a statically sized array with a dynamically sized index (such as a Vector{Integer} or UnitRange{Integer}) will result in a standard (dynamically sized) Array.


Since immutable arrays need to be constructed "all-at-once", we need a way of obtaining an appropriate constructor if the element type or dimensions of the output array differs from the input. To this end, similar_type is introduced, behaving just like similar, except that it returns a type. Relevant methods are:

similar_type{A <: StaticArray}(::Type{A}) # defaults to A
similar_type{A <: StaticArray, ElType}(::Type{A}, ::Type{ElType}) # Change element type
similar_type{A <: AbstractArray}(::Type{A}, size::Size) # Change size
similar_type{A <: AbstractArray, ElType}(::Type{A}, ::Type{ElType}, size::Size) # Change both

These setting will affect everything, from indexing, to matrix multiplication and broadcast. Users wanting introduce a new array type should only overload the last method in the above.

Use of similar will fall back to a mutable container, such as a MVector (see below), and it requires use of the Size trait if you wish to set a new static size (or else a dynamically sized Array will be generated when specifying the size as plain integers).


The simplest static array is the type SVector{N,T}, which provides an immutable vector of fixed length N and type T.

SVector defines a series of convenience constructors, so you can just type e.g. SVector(1,2,3). Alternatively there is an intelligent @SVector macro where you can use native Julia array literals syntax, comprehensions, and the zeros(), ones(), fill(), rand() and randn() functions, such as @SVector [1,2,3], @SVector Float64[1,2,3], @SVector [f(i) for i = 1:10], @SVector zeros(3), @SVector randn(Float32, 4), etc (Note: the range of a comprehension is evaluated at global scope by the macro, and must be made of combinations of literal values, functions, or global variables, but is not limited to just simple ranges. Extending this to (hopefully statically known by type-inference) local-scope variables is hoped for the future. The zeros(), ones(), fill(), rand() and randn() functions do not have this limitation.)


Statically sized N×M matrices are provided by SMatrix{N,M,T,L}.

Here L is the length of the matrix, such that N × M = L. However, convenience constructors are provided, so that L, T and even M are unnecessary. At minimum, you can type SMatrix{2}(1,2,3,4) to create a 2×2 matrix (the total number of elements must divide evenly into N). A convenience macro @SMatrix [1 2; 3 4] is provided (which also accepts comprehensions and the zeros(), ones(), fill(), rand(), randn() and eye() functions).


A container with arbitrarily many dimensions is defined as immutable SArray{Size,T,N,L} <: StaticArray{Size,T,N}, where Size = Tuple{S1, S2, ...} is a tuple of Ints. You can easily construct one with the @SArray macro, supporting all the features of @SVector and @SMatrix (but with arbitrary dimension).

The main reason SVector and SMatrix are defined is to make it easier to define the types without the extra tuple characters (compare SVector{3} to SArray{Tuple{3}}).


Sometimes you want to broadcast an operation, but not over one of your inputs. A classic example is attempting to displace a collection of vectors by the same vector. We can now do this with the Scalar type:

[[1,2,3], [4,5,6]] .+ Scalar([1,0,-1]) # [[2,2,2], [5,5,5]]

Scalar is simply an implementation of an immutable, 0-dimensional StaticArray.

Mutable arrays: MVector, MMatrix and MArray

These statically sized arrays are identical to the above, but are defined as mutable Julia types, instead of immutable. Because they are mutable, they allow setindex! to be defined (achieved through pointer manipulation, into a tuple).

As a consequence of Julia's internal implementation, these mutable containers live on the heap, not the stack. Their memory must be allocated and tracked by the garbage collector. Nevertheless, there is opportunity for speed improvements relative to Base.Array because (a) there may be one less pointer indirection, (b) their (typically small) static size allows for additional loop unrolling and inlining, and consequentially (c) their mutating methods like map! are extremely fast. Benchmarking shows that operations such as addition and matrix multiplication are faster for MMatrix than Matrix, at least for sizes up to 14 × 14, though keep in mind that optimal speed will be obtained by using mutating functions (like map! or A_mul_B!) where possible, rather than reallocating new memory.

Mutable static arrays also happen to be very useful containers that can be constructed on the heap (with the ability to use setindex!, etc), and later copied as e.g. an immutable SVector to the stack for use, or into e.g. an Array{SVector} for storage.

Convenience macros @MVector, @MMatrix and @MArray are provided.

SizedArray: a decorate size wrapper for Array

Another convenient mutable type is the SizedArray, which is just a wrapper-type about a standard Julia Array which declares its knwon size. For example, if we knew that a was a 2×2 Matrix, then we can type sa = SizedArray{Tuple{2,2}}(a) to construct a new object which knows the type (the size will be verified automatically). A more convenient syntax for obtaining a SizedArray is by calling a Size object, e.g. sa = Size(2,2)(a).

Then, methods on sa will use the specialized code provided by the StaticArrays pacakge, which in many cases will be much, much faster. For example, calling eig(sa) will be signficantly faster than eig(a) since it will perform a specialized 2×2 matrix diagonalization rather than a general algorithm provided by Julia and LAPACK.

In some cases it will make more sense to use a SizedArray, and in other cases an MArray might be preferable.


Sometimes it might be useful to imbue your own types, having multiple fields, with vector-like properties. StaticArrays can take care of this for you by allowing you to inherit from FieldVector{N, T}. For example, consider:

immutable Point3D <: FieldVector{3, Float64}

With this type, users can easily access fields to p = Point3D(x,y,z) using p.x, p.y or p.z, or alternatively via p[1], p[2], or p[3]. You may even permute the coordinates with p[SVector(3,2,1)]). Furthermore, Point3D is a complete AbstractVector implementation where you can add, subtract or scale vectors, multiply them by matrices, etc.

It is also worth noting that FieldVectors may be mutable or immutable, and that setindex! is defined for use on mutable types. For immutable containers, you may want to define a method for similar_type so that operations leave the type constant (otherwise they may fall back to SVector). For mutable containers, you may want to define a default constructor (no inputs) and an appropriate method for similar,

Implementing your own types

You can easily create your own StaticArray type, by defining linear getindex (and optionally setindex! for mutable types - see setindex(::MArray, val, i) in MArray.jl for an example of how to achieve this through pointer manipulation). Your type should define a constructor that takes a tuple of the data (and mutable containers may want to define a default constructor).

Other useful functions to overload may be similar_type (and similar for mutable containers).

Conversions from Array

In order to convert from a dynamically sized AbstractArray to one of the statically sized array types, you must specify the size explicitly. For example,

v = [1,2]

m = [1 2;
     3 4]

# ... a lot of intervening code

sv = SVector{2}(v)
sm = SMatrix{2,2}(m)
sa = SArray{(2,2)}(m)

sized_v = Size(2)(v)     # SizedArray{(2,)}(v)
sized_m = Size(2,2)(m)   # SizedArray{(2,2)}(m)

We have avoided adding SVector(v::AbstractVector) as a valid constructor to help users avoid the type instability (and potential performance disaster, if used without care) of this innocuous looking expression. However, the simplest way to deal with an Array is to create a SizedArray by calling a Size instance, e.g. Size(2)(v).

Arrays of static arrays

Storing a large number of static arrays is convenient as an array of static arrays. For example, a collection of positions (3D coordinates - SVector{3,Float64}) could be represented as a Vector{SVector{3,Float64}}.

Another common way of storing the same data is as a 3×N Matrix{Float64}. Rather conveniently, such types have exactly the same binary layout in memory, and therefore we can use reinterpret to convert between the two formats

function svectors(x::Matrix{Float64})
    @assert size(x,1) == 3
    reinterpret(SVector{3,Float64}, x, (size(x,2),))

Such a conversion does not copy the data, rather it refers to the same memory referenced by two different Julia Arrays. Arguably, a Vector of SVectors is preferable to a Matrix because (a) it provides a better abstraction of the objects contained in the array and (b) it allows the fast StaticArrays methods to act on elements.

Working with mutable and immutable arrays

Generally, it is performant to rebind an immutable array, such as

function average_position(positions::Vector{SVector{3,Float64}})
    x = zeros(SVector{3,Float64})
    for pos ∈ positions
        x = x + pos
    return x / length(positions)

so long as the Type of the rebound variable (x, above) does not change.

On the other hand, the above code for mutable containers like Array, MArray or SizedArray is not very efficient. Mutable containers in Julia 0.5 must be allocated and later garbage collected, and for small, fixed-size arrays this can be a leading contribution to the cost. In the above code, a new array will be instantiated and allocated on each iteration of the loop. In order to avoid unnecessary allocations, it is best to allocate an array only once and apply mutating functions to it:

function average_position(positions::Vector{SVector{3,Float64}})
    x = zeros(MVector{3,Float64})
    for pos ∈ positions
        # Take advantage of Julia 0.5 broadcast fusion
        x .= (+).(x, pos) # same as broadcast!(+, x, x, positions[i])
    x .= (/).(x, length(positions))
    return x

Keep in mind that Julia 0.5 does not fuse calls to .+, etc (or .+= etc), however the .= and (+).() syntaxes are fused into a single, efficient call to broadcast!. The simpler syntax x .+= pos is expected to be non-allocating (and therefore faster) in Julia 0.6.

The functions setindex, push, pop, shift, unshift, insert and deleteat are provided for performing certain specific operations on static arrays, in analogy with the standard functions setindex!, push!, pop!, etc. (Note that if the size of the static array changes, the type of the output will differ from the input.)

SIMD optimizations

It seems Julia and LLVM are smart enough to use processor vectorization extensions like SSE and AVX - however they are currently partially disabled by default. Run Julia with julia -O or julia -O3 to enable these optimizations, and many of your (immutable) StaticArray methods should become significantly faster!

Relationship to FixedSizeArrays and ImmutableArrays

Several existing packages for statically sized arrays have been developed for Julia, noteably FixedSizeArrays and ImmutableArrays which provided signficant inspiration for this package. Upon consultation, it has been decided to move forward with StaticArrays which has found a new home in the JuliaArrays github organization. It is recommended that new users use this package, and that existing dependent packages consider switching to StaticArrays sometime during the life-cycle of Julia v0.5.

You can try using StaticArrays.FixedSizeArrays to add some compatibility wrappers for the most commonly used features of the FixedSizeArrays package, such as Vec, Mat, Point and @fsa. These wrappers do not provide a perfect interface, but may help in trying out StaticArrays with pre-existing code.

Furthermore, using StaticArrays.ImmutableArrays will let you use the typenames from the ImmutableArrays package, which does not include the array size as a type parameter (e.g. Vector3{T} and Matrix3x3{T}).