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Differences from C++ API

The Python bindings attempt to mimic the Halide C++ API as closely as possible, with some differences where the C++ idiom is either inappropriate or impossible:

  • Most APIs that take a variadic argumentlist of ints in C++ take an explicit list in Python. For instance, the usual version of the Buffer ctor in C++ offers variadic and list versions:
Buffer<>(Type t, int extent_dim_0, int extent_dim_1, ...., extent_dim_N, string name = "")
Buffer<>(Type t, vector<int> extents, string name = "")

in Python, only the second variant is provided.

  • Func and Buffer access is done using [] rather than ()
  • Some classes in the Halide API aren't provided because they are 'wrapped' with standard Python idioms:
    • Halide::Tuple doesn't exist in the Python bindings; an ordinary Python tuple of Halide::Expr is used instead.
    • Halide::Realization doesn't exist in the Python bindings; an ordinary Python tuple of Halide::Buffer is used instead.
    • Halide::Error and friends don't exist; standard Python error handling is used instead.
  • static and instance method overloads with the same name in the same class aren't allowed, so some convenience methods are missing from Halide::Var
  • Templated types (notably Halide::Buffer<> and Halide::Param<>) aren't provided, for obvious reasons; only the equivalents of Halide::Buffer<void> and Halide::Param<void> are supported.
  • Only things in the Halide namespace are supported; classes and methods that involve using the Halide::Internal namespace are not provided.
  • The functions in Halide::ConciseCasts are present in the toplevel Halide module in Python, rather than a submodule: e.g., use hl.i8_sat(), not hl.ConciseCasts.i8_sat().
  • No mechanism is provided for overriding any runtime functions from Python.
  • No mechanism is provided for supporting Func::define_extern.
  • Buffer::for_each_value() is hard to implement well in Python; it's omitted entirely for now.

Enhancements to the C++ API

  • The Buffer supports the Python Buffer Protocol (https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-3118/) and thus is easily and cheaply converted to and from other compatible objects (e.g., NumPy's ndarray), with storage being shared.


The bindings (and demonstration applications) should work well both for python2.7 and python3.4 (or higher), on Linux and OSX platforms. Windows is not yet supported, but could be with CMake work. (The Makefile defaults to using Python 3.x; to use Python 2, set PYTHON = python before building.)

Python requirements:

See requirements.txt (to be used with pip: pip install --user requirements.txt)

C++ requirements:

  • Halide compiled to a distribution (e.g. make distrib or similar), with the HALIDE_DISTRIB_PATH env var pointing to it
  • The PyBind11 package (https://github.com/pybind/pybind11), v2.2.1 or later, with the PYBIND11_PATH env var pointing to it

Compilation instructions

Build using:


Documentation and Examples

The Python API reflects directly the C++ Halide API.

Check out the code for the example applications in the apps/ and tutorial/ subdirectory.

You can run them as a batch via make test_apps or make test_tutorial.

To run these examples, make sure the PYTHONPATH environment variable points to your build directory (e.g. export PYTHONPATH=halide_source/python_bindings/bin:$PYTHONPATH).


The Python bindings use the same MIT license as Halide.

Python bindings provided by Connelly Barnes (2012-2013), Fred Rotbart (2014), Rodrigo Benenson (2015) and the Halide open-source community.