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The ASTRA Toolbox

The ASTRA Toolbox is a MATLAB and Python toolbox of high-performance GPU primitives for 2D and 3D tomography.

We support 2D parallel and fan beam geometries, and 3D parallel and cone beam. All of them have highly flexible source/detector positioning.

A large number of 2D and 3D algorithms are available, including FBP, SIRT, SART, CGLS.

The basic forward and backward projection operations are GPU-accelerated, and directly callable from MATLAB and Python to enable building new algorithms.

Documentation / samples

See the MATLAB and Python code samples in samples/ and on .

Installation instructions

Windows, binary

Add the mex and tools subdirectories to your MATLAB path, or copy the Python astra module to your Python site-packages directory. We require the Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 redistributable package. If this is not already installed on your system, it is included as vc_redist.x64.exe in the ASTRA zip file.

Linux/Windows, using conda for python

Requirements: conda python environment, with 64 bit Python 3.7, 3.8 or 3.9.

There are packages available for the ASTRA Toolbox in the astra-toolbox channel for the conda package manager. To use these, run the following inside a conda environment.

conda install -c astra-toolbox astra-toolbox

We also provide development packages:

conda install -c astra-toolbox/label/dev astra-toolbox

Linux, from source

For Matlab

Requirements: g++, boost, CUDA (8.0 or higher), Matlab (R2012a or higher)

cd build/linux
./   # when building a git version
./configure --with-cuda=/usr/local/cuda \
            --with-matlab=/usr/local/MATLAB/R2012a \
            --prefix=$HOME/astra \
make install

Add $HOME/astra/matlab and its subdirectories (tools, mex) to your matlab path.

If you want to build the Octave interface instead of the Matlab interface, specify --enable-octave instead of --with-matlab=... . The Octave files will be installed into $HOME/astra/octave . On some Linux distributions building the Astra Octave interface will require the Octave development package to be installed (e.g., liboctave-dev on Ubuntu).

NB: Each matlab version only supports a specific range of g++ versions. Despite this, if you have a newer g++ and if you get errors related to missing GLIBCXX_3.4.xx symbols, it is often possible to work around this requirement by deleting the version of libstdc++ supplied by matlab in MATLAB_PATH/bin/glnx86 or MATLAB_PATH/bin/glnxa64 (at your own risk), or setting LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib64/ (or similar) when starting matlab.

For Python

Requirements: g++, boost, CUDA (8.0 or higher), Python (2.7 or 3.x)

cd build/linux
./   # when building a git version
./configure --with-cuda=/usr/local/cuda \
            --with-python \
make install

This will install Astra into your current Python environment.

As a C++ library

Requirements: g++, boost, CUDA (8.0 or higher)

cd build/linux
./   # when building a git version
./configure --with-cuda=/usr/local/cuda
make install-dev

This will install the Astra library and C++ headers.

macOS, from source

Use the Homebrew package manager to install boost, libtool, autoconf, automake.

cd build/linux
CPPFLAGS="-I/usr/local/include" NVCCFLAGS="-I/usr/local/include" ./configure \
  --with-cuda=/usr/local/cuda \
  --with-matlab=/Applications/ \
  --prefix=$HOME/astra \
make install

Windows, from source using Visual Studio 2015

Requirements: Visual Studio 2015 (full or community), boost (recent), CUDA 9.0, Matlab (R2012a or higher) and/or WinPython 3.x.

Using the Visual Studio IDE:

Set the environment variable MATLAB_ROOT to your matlab install location. Copy boost headers to lib\include\boost, and boost libraries to lib\x64. Open astra_vc14.sln in Visual Studio. Select the appropriate solution configuration (typically Release_CUDA|x64). Build the solution. Install by copying AstraCuda64.dll and all .mexw64 files from bin\x64\Release_CUDA and the entire matlab/tools directory to a directory to be added to your matlab path.

Using .bat scripts in build\msvc:

Edit build_env.bat and set up the correct directories. Run build_setup.bat to automatically copy the boost headers and libraries. For matlab: Run build_matlab.bat. The .dll and .mexw64 files will be in bin\x64\Release_Cuda. For python 3.9: Run build_python39.bat. Astra will be directly installed into site-packages.

Testing your installation

To perform a (very) basic test of your ASTRA installation in Python, you can run the following Python command.

import astra

To test your ASTRA installation in Matlab, the equivalent command is:



If you use the ASTRA Toolbox for your research, we would appreciate it if you would refer to the following papers:

W. van Aarle, W. J. Palenstijn, J. Cant, E. Janssens, F. Bleichrodt, A. Dabravolski, J. De Beenhouwer, K. J. Batenburg, and J. Sijbers, “Fast and Flexible X-ray Tomography Using the ASTRA Toolbox”, Optics Express, 24(22), 25129-25147, (2016),

W. van Aarle, W. J. Palenstijn, J. De Beenhouwer, T. Altantzis, S. Bals, K. J. Batenburg, and J. Sijbers, “The ASTRA Toolbox: A platform for advanced algorithm development in electron tomography”, Ultramicroscopy, 157, 35–47, (2015),

Additionally, if you use parallel beam GPU code, we would appreciate it if you would refer to the following paper:

W. J. Palenstijn, K J. Batenburg, and J. Sijbers, "Performance improvements for iterative electron tomography reconstruction using graphics processing units (GPUs)", Journal of Structural Biology, vol. 176, issue 2, pp. 250-253, 2011,


The ASTRA Toolbox is open source under the GPLv3 license.


email: website:

Copyright: 2010-2021, imec Vision Lab, University of Antwerp 2014-2021, CWI, Amsterdam and