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GraphLab is free software licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. See license/LICENSE.txt for details.


GraphLab is a graph-based, high performance, distributed computation framework written in C++. The GraphLab project started in 2009 to develop a new parallel computation abstraction tailored to machine learning. GraphLab 1.0 represents our first shared memory design, and in GraphLab 2.1, we completely redesigned the framework to target the distributed environment addressing the difficulties with real world power-law graphs, achieving unparalleled performance. In GraphLab 2.2, we introduce the Warp System which provides a new flexible, distributed architecture around fine-grained user-mode threading (fibers). The new Warp system will allow us to easily extend the abstraction to cover new ground while improving useability, and will also allow us to realize new system optimizations that are not available in the past.

GraphLab Features:

  • Unified multicore/distributed API: write once run anywhere

  • Tuned for performance: optimized C++ execution engine leverages extensive multi-threading and asynchronous IO

  • Scalable: Run on large cluster deployments by intelligently placing data and computation

  • HDFS Integration: Access your data directly from HDFS

  • Powerful Machine Learning Toolkits: Tackle challenging machine learning problems with ease

For more details on the GraphLab see, including documentation, tutorial, etc.


GraphLab now automatically satisfied most dependencies. There are however, a few dependencies which we cannot easily satisfy:

  • On OS X: g++ (>= 4.2) or clang (>= 3.0) [Required]

    • Required for compiling GraphLab.
  • On Linux: g++ (>= 4.3) or clang (>= 3.0) [Required]

    • Required for compiling GraphLab.
  • *nix build tools: patch, make [Required]

    • Should come with most Mac/Linux systems by default. Recent Ubuntu version will require to install the build-essential package.
  • zlib [Required]

    • Comes with most Mac/Linux systems by default. Recent Ubuntu version will require the zlib1g-dev package.
  • Open MPI or MPICH2 [Strongly Recommended]

    • Required for running GraphLab distributed.
  • JDK 6 or greater [Optional]

    • Required for HDFS support

Satisfying Dependencies on Mac OS X

Installing XCode with the command line tools (in XCode 4.3 you have to do this manually in the XCode Preferences -> Download pane), satisfies all of these dependencies.

Satisfying Dependencies on Ubuntu

All the dependencies can be satisfied from the repository:

apt-get install gcc g++ build-essential libopenmpi-dev default-jdk cmake zlib1g-dev



In the graphlab directory, will create two sub-directories, release/ and debug/ . cd into either of these directories and running make will build the release or the debug versions respectively. Note that this will compile all of GraphLab, including all toolkits. Since some toolkits require additional dependencies (for instance, the Computer Vision toolkit needs OpenCV), this will also download and build all optional dependencies.

We recommend using make’s parallel build feature to accelerate the compilation process. For instance:

make -j 4

will perform up to 4 build tasks in parallel. When building in release/ mode, GraphLab does require a large amount of memory to compile with the heaviest toolkit requiring 1GB of RAM. Where K is the amount of memory you have on your machine in GB, we recommend not exceeding make -j K

Alternatively, if you know exactly which toolkit you want to build, cd into the toolkit’s sub-directory and running make, will be significantly faster as it will only download the minimal set of dependencies for that toolkit. For instance:

cd release/toolkits/graph_analytics
make -j4

will build only the Graph Analytics toolkit and will not need to obtain OpenCV, Eigen, etc used by the other toolkits.

Writing Your Own Apps

There are two ways to write your own apps.

1: To work in the GraphLab source tree, (recommended) 2: Install and link against Graphlab (not recommended)

1: Working in the GraphLab Source Tree

This is the best option if you just want to try using GraphLab quickly. GraphLab uses the CMake build system which enables you to quickly create a c++ project without having to write complicated Makefiles.

1: Create your own sub-directory in the apps/ directory. for example apps/my_app

2: Create a CMakeLists.txt in apps/my_app containing the following lines:

add_graphlab_executable(my_app [List of cpp files space seperated]) 

Substituting the right values into the square brackets. For instance:

add_graphlab_executable(my_app my_app.cpp) 

4: Running "make" in the apps/ directory of any of the build directories should compile your app. If your app does not show up, try running

cd [the GraphLab API directory]
touch apps/CMakeLists.txt

and try again.

2: Installing and Linking Against GraphLab

To install graphlab and use GraphLab this way will require your system to completely satisfy all remaining dependencies, which GraphLab normally builds automatically. This path is not extensively tested and is not recommended

You will require the following additional dependencies

  • libevent (>=2.0.18)
  • libjson (>=7.6.0)
  • libboost (>=1.53)
  • libhdfs (required for HDFS support)
  • tcmalloc (optional)

Follow the instructions in the [Compiling] section to build the release/ version of the library. Then cd into the release/ build directory and run make install . This will install the following:

  • include/graphlab.hpp
    • The primary GraphLab header
  • include/graphlab/...
    • The folder containing the headers for the rest of the GraphLab library
  • lib/libgraphlab.a
    • The GraphLab static library.

Once you have installed GraphLab you can compile your program by running:

g++ -O3 -pthread -lzookeeper_mt -lzookeeper_st -lboost_context -lz -ltcmalloc -levent -levent_pthreads -ljson -lboost_filesystem -lboost_program_options -lboost_system -lboost_iostreams -lboost_date_time -lhdfs -lgraphlab hello_world.cpp 

If you have compiled with MPI support, you will also need

-lmpi -lmpi++