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The Cairo bitwise integer library (cairo-bitwise-int v0.3.1)

Author: Jamie Gabbay

What is this?

The Cairo Abstract Machine's primitive notion of counting is a finite field over a prime of size approximately 2^251. This differs significantly from that of a typical Intel or ARM chip, which is typically a 64-bit integer bitwise representation.

This directory contains cairo-bitwise-int, a collection of Cairo libraries to emulate

  • signed and unsigned integer datatypes of various bit lengths (e.g. 8-bit unsigned integers, also known as 'bytes'), and
  • signed and unsigned unbounded integer datatypes.

I am pleased to share this with the Cairo community, and feedback and suggestions are welcome.

This code has been tested using cairotest (pip | GitHub), an automated unit- and property-based test suite.

How to use the Cairo bitwise library

Contents of this library

The int_fixedwidth directory contains prepared source files. For example:

  • uint8.cairo is a library for unsigned 8-bit integers (i.e. "bytes").
  • uint32.cairo is a library for unsigned 32-bit integers (i.e. "words").
  • int32.cairo is a library for signed 32-bit integers (i.e. "signed words").

Assuming you are writing Cairo code, You can import these libraries using the usual Cairo library import mechanism.


You'll need a working Cairo installation.

-- so do that first! The rest of these instructions assume you're in a Cairo virtual environment. We'll also assume you're using a Linux system; YMMV on other systems but the overall idea should be the same.

How to customise the library

Templates and BIT_LENGTH

The fixedwidth integer code is templated over a BIT_LENGTH parameter which may vary between 4 and 125.

  • The templates are in the templates directory.
  • Generation of code from templates is controlled by the file, which also contains a list of bit lengths to use.

This means that if you want an int93.cairo library, you can have one, by following the library compilation and testing instructions below.

Library compilation and testing

To set up:

Let's say that again in code:

source ./
pip3 install jinja2 pytest hypothesis cairotest
cd int_fixedwidth

For custom bit lengths, just edit the list of bit_lengths in (direct link to line, correct at time of writing).

That's it! The bitwise integer library files should now be in your int_fixedwidth directory and (optionally) fully tested.

Unbounded integers

Unbounded signed and unsigned integers are also supported. See the int_unbounded directory directory.

Why do we need a Cairo bitwise integer library?

As you may know, Cairo's primitive numerical datatype is a felt (field element) which is a number between 0 and a constant DEFAULT_PRIME, currently set to just over 2^251.

However, the difference between the number model of Cairo and that of a typical computer chip goes deeper than the difference between 2^64 and 2^251. For instance:

  • In Cairo, every number element has a multiplicative inverse, since we are in a finite field. So for example "divide by two" is well-defined and is a bijection on the number space. This is not the case for a typical bitwise representation!
  • Conversely, Cairo has no native notions of "shift left one bit" or "shift right one bit" (multiplying or dividing by two is not the same thing, in a finite field) -- nor of "add with overflow" (there is no native notion of overflow, again because we are in a finite field), and so forth.

This sets up a representational mismatch between Cairo and bitwise-based models of computing on numbers.

The Cairo bitwise integer library helps to bridge this gap with suitable library emulations of "bitwise-flavoured" datatypes for numerical computations -- the ones you're probably used to, such as "64-bit unsigned integers" (see code/uint64.cairo).

My install

This is what I type to get set up on a new machine running Debian linux. Help yourself (but don't blame me if something goes wrong):

# Make sure the system's up-to-date
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
# Stuff we need to compile Python 3.7
sudo apt install build-essential zlib1g-dev libncurses5-dev libgdbm-dev libnss3-dev libssl-dev libsqlite3-dev libreadline-dev libffi-dev wget libbz2-dev libgmp-dev
# Download Python 3.7 and cd into directory
tar xvzf Python-3.7.13.tgz
cd Python-3.7.13
# Configure compilation
./configure --enable-optimizations
# Make (8 core system)
make -j 8
# Install
# IMPORTANT: altinstall means we don't overwrite your machine's native version of Python!
sudo make altinstall

# Create Python3.7 virtual environment
python3.7 -m venv ~/cairo_venv-3.7
# Jump into the venv
source ~/cairo_venv-3.7/bin/activate
# Install prerequisites to run cairo-bitwise-int and cairo-smart-test (works for Cairo 0.8)
pip3 install jinja2 pytest pytest-reverse hypothesis cairo-lang cairotest black pytest-xdist[psutil]

Feedback and comments ...

... are very welcome. Thanks in advance.


A library for bitwise integer types (e.g. int64 or uint32) in Cairo, with a test suite







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