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Sirocco Is a ROot Certified COntinuator


Siroco is included as an optional package since version 8 of SageMath. This meants that, in order to use it within Sage, you don't need to go through the instruction discussed here. Just install it as any other optional Sage package:

sage -i sirocco

and you can use it from Sage as explained in the Sage documentation for affine and projective curves.

General description.

This is a library for computing homotopy continuation of a given root of one dimensional sections of bivariate complex polynomials. The output is a piecewise linear approximation of the path followed by the root, with the property that there is a tubular neighborhood, with square transversal section, that contains the actual path, and there is a three times thicker tubular neighborhood guaranted to contain no other root of the polynomial. This second property ensures that the piecewise linear approximation computed from all roots of a polynomial form a topologically correct deformation of the actual braid, since the inner tubular neighborhoods cannot intersect.

The first version of the library was written in C, and provided only double precission. This is the second version, rewritten in C++, and provides the possibility of using arbitrary precission computations. Hence, it depends on the MPFR and GMP libraries.


  • Miguel Marco
  • Marcos Rodriguez


After installing the library, you can call it from any .cpp program by calling the homotopyPath or homotopyPath_mp functions. In the file tests/sirocco_test.cpp you can see a simple example

Double precission:

The input of the homotopyPath function is the following:

  • An integer representing the total degree of the polynomial

  • A malloc'ed array of double precission floats. Each four consecutive entries of this list represent a coefficient, in the form of a rectangular complex interval. These four numbers represent the following:

    • the lower bound of the real part
    • the upper bound of the real part
    • the lower bound of the imaginary part
    • the upper bound of the imaginary part

    These coefficients are written in increasing deglex order. That is, the first coefficients are the corresponding to the monomials $1, x, y, x^2, x y, y^2, x^3, x^2 y, x y^2, y^3...$

  • A double precission float corresponding to the real part of an approximate solution y0

  • A double precission float corresponding to the imaginary part of an approximate solution y0

The use of complex intervals allows us to represent polynomials with non rational coefficients (even transcendental): just give an interval that contains it.

y0 must be an approximation of a simple root of the univariate polynomial f(0,y).

For example, the input 1, [2.0, 2.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 3.2, 3.2, -4.5, -4.5, 0.7, 0.7], 6.1, -3.3 would represent the polynomial of degree 1 f(x,y)=(2) + (3.2*i)*x + (-4.5 + 0.7)y , and the approximate root y0= 6.1-3.3i

The output is a malloc'ed array of double floats. The first entry represents the number of points in the piecewise linear path. Then, each three entries correspond to one of these points. The first entry of these triplets is the x coordinate of the point (will be a real number between 0 and 1), the next two are the real and imaginary parts of the y coordinate.

This path represents the movement of the root y0 of f(x,y) when x varies from 0 to 1. So for each t between 0 and 1, there is a value y_t which is the linear interpolation of the returned values. The computation certifies that for each t, there is a square neighborhood centered around y_t that contains one and only one root of f(t,y). That is, there is a tube around the piecewise linear path that contains the actual path followed by y0. Moreover, the corresponding tubes of two different roots computed this way will not intersect.

Note that the method might fail if there is a singularity (i.e. a value xt for which f(xt, y) has multiple roots). In that case, you will either get a NULL value, or an infinite running time.

Arbitrary precission

The input of the homotopyPath_mp function is the following:

  • An integer representing the total degree of the polynomial
  • A malloc'ed array of mpfr_t numbers. As before, each four entries represent an (intervalar) coefficient of a polynomial, following increasing deglex order.
  • A mpfr_t number corresponding to the real part of an approximate solution y0
  • A mpfr_t number corresponding to the imaginary part of an approximate solution y0
  • An integer representing the precission to be used in the internal computations (and the output).

The output is a malloc'ed array of mpfr_t numbers as before, being the first equal to the length of the list of points.

From SageMath

If you have the library and headers installed correctly, you can call this library from a sagemath session. The relevant files for that are sage-sirocco_interface.pyx and The first one contains the interface code, and the second one several functions to compute the fundamental group of the complement of a curve in the complex plane, using this library. Refer to the comments in for a more detailed explanation of the functions available there.

An example of session using this library can be the following

sage: load("sage-sirocco_interface.pyx")
Compiling ./sage-sirocco_interface.pyx...
sage: load("")
sage: R.<x,y>=QQ[]
sage: f = x^4*y - x^2*y - y^2 + y
sage: followstrand(f, 0, 2, 1)
[(0.0, 1.0, 0.0),
 (0.0625, 0.984619140625, 0.0),
 (0.12764635845490785, 0.9390733273680929, 0.0),
 (0.2052599190422273, 0.8598746563676689, 0.0),
 (0.2738388312761707, 0.7900196735949514, 0.0),
 (0.33595920835462223, 0.752354737862309, 0.0),
 (0.37742976502219505, 0.7548738424164684, 0.0),
 (0.41234462235565617, 0.7824404587459047, 0.0),
 (0.44384260852985935, 0.8329353859054077, 0.0),
 (0.4733854965730891, 0.907113389122892, 0.0),
 (0.5018340661499732, 1.0074037381755196, 0.0),
 (0.529765293818804, 1.137637068382814, 0.0),
 (0.557600298953678, 1.3030485992155871, 0.0),
 (0.5856659871973544, 1.5104164286992712, 0.0),
 (0.6142284603481915, 1.7682957386440397, 0.0),
 (0.6435127330480354, 2.0873408693121487, 0.0),
 (0.6737151554114301, 2.480720326965522, 0.0),
 (0.7050116648058133, 2.964637418672337, 0.0),
 (0.7375635167677792, 3.558975212506035, 0.0),
 (0.7715214229939402, 4.288090367126086, 0.0),
 (0.8070286452864655, 5.181786778567655, 0.0),
 (0.8442233838690689, 6.276507417916129, 0.0),
 (0.8832406761016618, 7.616791574925573, 0.0),
 (0.9242139476600717, 9.257055380403543, 0.0),
 (0.9672763120876258, 11.263766404273989, 0.0),
 (1.0, 13.0, 0.0)]
sage: fundamental_group(f)
Finitely presented group < x0, x1 | x1*x0*x1^-1*x0^-1 >

We can specify the precission as follows:

sage: load("sage-sirocco_interface.pyx")
Compiling ./sage-sirocco_interface.pyx...
sage: load("")
sage: R.<x,y>=QQ[]
sage: f = x^4*y - x^2*y - y^2 + y
sage: followstrand(f, 0, 2, 1, 64)
[(0.000000000000000000, 1.00000000000000000, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.0883883476483184405, 0.969726562500000000, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.184950730956687066, 0.881894561449717605, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.283035462744631192, 0.782243124984969131, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.364422453016160885, 0.750974369797796147, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.416213471348053255, 0.787223765636793229, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.460346631682259060, 0.870878660223339468, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.501152408999113160, 1.00463624592918436, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.540663152674931619, 1.19791775328661377, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.580106072748739940, 1.46587204907629284, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.620334416729080238, 1.83005958982634992, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.662000357948364900, 2.31995360710040316, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.705638358240579886, 2.97517476873941566, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.751710669137123514, 3.84857061175344128, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.800634597966427747, 5.01035622419154600, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.852800145520231329, 6.55362960101237132, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.908582197461905312, 8.60168840702565921, 0.000000000000000000),
 (0.968349464421671190, 11.3177184607822591, 0.000000000000000000),
 (1.00000000000000000, 13.0000000000000000, 0.000000000000000000)]

The command followstrand shows the path followed y the root y0=1 of f(x,y) when x varies from 0 o 2. It accepts an optional argument called prec, for the precission to use. By default it is set to 53 (and uses the double precission implementation). If the computation fails, it falls back to a bigger precission until it succeeds). The command fundamental_group uses this approach to compute the braid monodromy associated to this polynomial, and then uses it to get a presentation of the fundamental group of its complement, using Zariski-VanKampen method.

At some point we expect to have this included in SageMath as an optional (or maybe even standard) package. When that happens, we will probably provide a more natural interface for the fundamental group and/or braid monodromy computation.


As mentioned before, Sirocco is already included as an optional package in Sage. This means that it can be easily installed in your Sage install by running:

sage -i sirocco

After doing that, you can compute fundamental groups of affine and projective curves as explained before.


This library deppends on:

  • autotools/libtools/autoconf if you want to generate the configuration scripts (only needed if you get the source code from a git repository)
  • /make/gcc for the build process with C++ support (you need them to build from a source tarball)
  • standard c libraries (math, io and std)
  • mpfr
  • gmp


The following instructions install the library and header files in the standard system locations. If you want to install it in a different location, you can pass extra arguments to the configure script.

In particular, if you want to install it so it can be used from a SageMath install you have to use

./configure --prefix=<sagedir>/local --libdir=<sagedir>/local/lib

where is the directory where SageMath is installed.

From the git repository

You can get the git repository by running

git clone

And then cd in the directory and run

autoreconf --install

to create the configure script then from there you can continue as usual:

make install

This last line might require superuser privileges for writing in system folders

From a tar.gz package

If you got a tarball produced by a make distcommand, just unpack it and run

make install

as before.

To do:

  • include an option for passing the factors of the polynomial, for the cases where the original polynomial is reducible. This might speed up the computations
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