Quickstart guide

Get the code and setup your environment on Unix (Linux or macOS)

The following instructions will walk you through the installation process of dNami on Unix. You need to have a working Python3 environment and a Fortran compiler (Intel’s ifort or the GNU gfortran compiler).

  1. Clone dNami from the github repository

    Navigate to the location you wish to place the code in and execute the following command:

    git clone git@github.com:dNamiLab/dNami.git

    By default, this will create a dNami folder containing the source code.

  2. Install the dependencies

    dNami depends on the following Python packages:

    • numpy

    • scons

    These can be installed using Pythons package installer pip:

    python3 -m pip install --user numpy scons
  3. Additional dependencies (strongly recommended)

    If you want to run dNami in a distributed memory environment (cluster) or on multiple cores you also need to install MPI and mpi4py. If you already have a working MPI installation you can install mpi4py using the Python package installer pip:

    python3 -m pip install --user mpi4py

    If you don’t have a working MPI installation you can use your Linux distributions package manager to install MPI.

    The following command will install OpenMPI on Ubuntu:

    sudo apt-get -y install openmpi-bin

    The following command will install OpenMPI on macOS (if homebrew is installed):

    brew install open-mpi

    If you are running a different Linux distribution check the documentation on how to install MPI.

Steps to run a case

In general, the steps to running a case will be:


  1. Place an equations.py (containing the governing equations) and a genRhs.py (containing the numerical parameters) in the dNami/src/generate/ folder.

  2. Change up to dNami/src/ and run the ./install_clean.sh script to translate the pseudo-code and compile the generated Fortran code.

  3. Source the environment variables (which add the required locations to the Python path) by running source env_dNami.sh in dNami/src/

  4. Change into a user-created work directory (e.g. dNami/wrk/) where the compute.py file has been placed.

  5. Run the computation in parallel e.g. with mpirun -np N python3 compute.py (where N is the number of processes) or in serial mode python3 compute.py depending on the decomposition chosen in the compute.py.

The details of each of the keys files (equations.py, genRhs.py and compute.py) are specific to the problem to be solved. In the following section, the details of each step are given when solving the 1D Euler equations.

Solving the 1D Euler equations

As an example and quickstart guide to the steps in setting up a case in dNami, the 1D ideal gas Euler equations

\[\begin{split}\dfrac{\partial }{\partial t} \begin{pmatrix} \rho \\ \rho u \\ \rho e_t \end{pmatrix} + \dfrac{\partial }{\partial x} \begin{pmatrix} \rho u \\ \rho u^2 + p \\ u ( \rho e_t + p) \end{pmatrix} = \mathbf{0}\end{split}\]

are integrated in time to solve the propagation of an entropy wave out of the computational domain.

Setting up a basic case like this is essentially a three-step process:

  1. Specify the governing equations and the boundary conditions in symbolic form using the dNami syntax in the equations.py file

  2. Specify the desired numerics in the genRhs.py file then generate and compile the Fortran code

  3. Specify the problem parameter and integrate the equations in time in the compute.py file


A minimal functional example for each of these files that allows the case to be run are given in the /exm/1d_euler_nonreflective directory. The core elements of each of these files are presented here.

The user is referred to the API documentation for the settings and function arguments not detailed here. Fig. 2 shows an overview of the file locations and steps detailed below.


Fig. 2 Overview of file location and steps

Specifying the governing equations

The equations.py uses a list to define the variables to be advanced in time and python dictionaries to act as vectors with the keys acting as component identifiers. In the current case, rho, rho u and rho e_t are the quantities to be advanced in time. The primitive variables are declared using the varsolved list as follows:

varsolved = ['rho','u','et']

To specify that we wish to advance them in conservative form we refer to the corresponding position in the above list with the consvar list (the index starts at 1 as this will be used in the Fortran layer). For more details on this aspect, see the Writing your own genRhs.py section.

consvar = [2,3]

To specify the right hand side, a dictionary of the flux divergence is created with the component-by-component contributions specified with the corresponding keys. Note the use of the [ ]_1x syntax for the spatial derivative. The details of this syntax are given in dNami syntax.

divF = {
        'rho' : ' [ rho*u          ]_1x ',
        'u'   : ' [ rho*u*u + p    ]_1x ',
        'et'  : ' [ u*(rho*et + p) ]_1x ',

Intermediate variables such as the pressure term p can be either replaced when the code is generated (via an alias) or computed during the time loop, stored and used when computing the right-hand side. In the current example, an alias for p is created using the varloc dictionary. This approach gives the user flexibility to store and output intermediate variables as well as test the impact of different combinations on computational efficiency.

varloc = { 'e' : ' (et - 0.5_wp*u*u) ',                        #internal energy
           'p' : ' delta*rho*e       ',                        #pressure
           'c' : '( ( 1.0_wp + delta ) * p / rho  )**0.5_wp ', #isentropic speed of sound

The constant coefficients involved in the equations (e.g. delta) are declared at the start of the equations.py file in the coefficients dictionary.

coefficients = {
                 'delta' : 1, # R/Cv

Similarly, a separate set of equations for the boundary conditions can be symbolically specified in the equations.py. For instance, the 1D non-reflecting boundary conditions are implemented in this example using the following expression which gives the time-update of the right-hand side:

src_phybc_wave_i1 = {
        'rho' :' ( '+dcoefi1['rho']+'  ) ',
        'u'   :' (u * ('+dcoefi1['rho']+')  + rho * ('+dcoefi1['u']+')  ) ',
        'et'  :' (et + p/rho - c*c/delta )*('+dcoefi1['rho']+') + rho * u * ('+dcoefi1['u']+')  + c*c/delta * ('+dcoefi1['et']+')/(c)/(c) ',

The reader is referred to the file itself and the literature for the details of the physical expression. Note that no separate syntax is required to specify derivatives at the boundaries, this is automatically managed in the back-end when the Fortran code is generated.

Specifying the numerical options

With the equations in place, the second step involves choosing the various numerics. In the genRhs.py file, the user can specify a number of parameters. First the append_Rhs function allows the user to choose the discretisation scheme for the input equations and whether this sets or is appended to the current RHS (via the update argument). This means that the user can compute different terms of the RHS with different spatial schemes. In the following code block, the RHS is set using the expression detailed in the previous section using a 5 point, 4th order centered finite difference stencil.


In this example, a standard 11 point, 10th order filter is used and is applied to the conservative variables using the following:


The points between the edge boundary points and the domain which is more than a half stencil away from the edge have to be dealt with differently as a full stencil of points is not available. The following code block discretises the governing equation with a progressive scheme stencil and order modification as the edge of the domain is approached:

genBC(divF,3,2,rhsname ,vnamesrc_divF,update=False,rhs=rhs)

The physical boundary conditions at the edge of the domain are enforced with the following line (where derivatives are computed with a 3 point, 2nd order, one-sided derivative). The setbc option specifies the boundary in question (here i1) and whether the physical boundary conditions are enforced on the RHS or directly on the primitive variables (here on the rhs).

genBC(src_phybc_wave_i1,3,2,rhsname,vnamesrc_divF,setbc=[True,{'char':{'i1':['rhs']}}], update=False,rhs=rhs)


The equations.py and genRhs.py files must be placed in the src/generate/ folder.

Changing up to the src/ folder and running the ./install_clean.sh command will translate the symbolic expressions into Fortran code with the aforementioned numerics and compile the code. Running the command source env_dNami.sh will add the necessary environment variables to the path.

Specifying the parameters and running the computation

The final step involves setting the run parameters and advancing the solution in time. Example parameters for the run are given below:

# Solve the equation ...
# ... for fluid ...
delta       = dn.cst(0.4) # R/Cv

# ... in space ...
L = dn.cst(1.)
with_length = [L]         # domain length
with_grid   = [480]       # number of points

# ... and time ...
with_dt   = dn.cst(5.e-4) # time step
filtr_amp = dn.cst(0.1)   # filter amplitude

# ... as fast as possible!
with_proc = [2]           # mpi proc. topology

This information is passed to the dNami Python interface which allocates the memory based on the computational parameters and prepares a number of useful aliases. The density, velocity and total energy fields can be filled with the initial conditions via references to the allocated memory. Here a half-sine wave perturbation is applied to the density field. A uniform velocity field is specified and the total energy is updated with the internal energy computed at fixed pressure corresponding to an entropy perturbation.

# -- Fill density and velocity fields
rho[:] = rho0
u  [:] = u0

# -- Add half sin-wave perturbation to the density field
rho[dom] += amp * ( np.cos( np.pi*(xloc[:]-dn.cst(0.5)*Lx)/Lp ) ) * ( np.abs(xloc[:] - dn.cst(0.5)*Lx) <= dn.cst(0.5)*Lp   )

# -- Update total energy
et [:] = eos_e(rho[:],p0) + dn.cst(0.5)*u0*u0

During the time loop, the user can set the frequency at which operations and outputs take place. A few example steps are given here. First, the RHS is updated using the RK scheme implemented in dNami. Filtering is applied every mod_filter timesteps. A restart file i.e. the current state of the primitive variables at time ti is written out at a frequency mod_rstart. Finally, run information such a global extrema and CFL values are printed to the standard output every mod_output. Other run-time output are possible via the write_data function (e.g. the user can write out the pressure at a custom frequency).

# -- Set the start and end of the time loop
for n in range(ni,nitmax+ni):
    ti = ti + dt

    # -- Update the q using the RHS
    for nrk in range(1,4):
        intparam[7] = nrk

    # -- Apply filtering
    if np.mod(n,mod_filter) == 0:

    # -- Save a 'restart' i.e. the state of q at t=ti
    if np.mod(n,mod_rstart) == 0:

    # -- Output information during the run
    if np.mod(n,mod_output) == 0:

        if dMpi.ioproc:
                print('iteration',n,' with time t =',ti)
        e = et - .5*(u*u)
        p = eos_p(rho,e)
        c = eos_sos(rho[hlo:nx+hlo],p[hlo:nx+hlo])
        dn.dnami_io.globalMinMax(dtree,np.abs( u[hlo:nx+hlo])/c,'M')
        if dMpi.ioproc:
                print('convective CFL numbers')
        cfl = dt*np.abs(u[hlo:nx+hlo])/dx
        if dMpi.ioproc:
                print('acoustic CFL numbers')
        cfl = dt*(np.abs(u[hlo:nx+hlo])+c)/dx

To run the case, which is set to run on 2 cores (see the with_proc list), the user can make a work folder at the root of the dNami/ folder by executing:

cd /path/to/dNami/; mkdir wrk

then copy the compute.py file into the wrk folder and execute the run:

cp ./exm/1d_euler_nonreflective/compute.py ./wrk/
cd wrk
mpirun -np 2 python3 compute.py

The example should run for 4000 timesteps and then exit. Optionally, the user can choose to visualise the output using the provided python script plot_xt.py. The script gathers the output density fields and construct an x-t diagram showing the entropy perturbation moving from the center to the right of the domain at the flow speed. The result is displayed below:


Fig. 3 x-t diagram of the entropy perturbation leaving the computation domain. The field shown is that of density fluctuations (i.e. \((\rho - \rho_0)\) ). The dashed blue lines indicate the flow speed.

Advanced information

To get more in-depth information about the genRhs.py and the compute.py, check out for the corresponding sections: