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Thursday, September 23, 2010

PLA: Release 1

I'm happy to finally announce the first official release of Parrot-Linear-Algebra (PLA). PLA is an extension project for the Parrot Virtual Machine which brings linear algebra support and bindings to the BLAS library.

PLA has several dependencies (see below). Once you have those installed properly, you can obtain and install PLA using Plumage, the Parrot package manager:

plumage install parrot-linear-algebra

Or, if you prefer to do things the hard way, you can use this series of commands to obtain and build PLA like this:

git clone git:// pla
cd pla
parrot-nqp setup.nqp build
parrot-nqp setup.nqp test
parrot-nqp setup.nqp install 

Before you get started with PLA, you must install some dependencies.


You must have an installed copy of the Parrot Virtual Machine, version 2.8.0 or later.


PLA links to the BLAS library. You can use either the standard reference BLAS library from, or you can use one of the ATLAS or CBLAS variants. There are other implementations of BLAS, though PLA may not currently be compatible with all of them (patches and error reports welcomed!)


Kakapo is a development framework for the NQP language. It provides a unit testing library which PLA uses to implement its test suite. A special version of Kakapo is required for PLA release 1. You can use this sequence of commands to get and install that version:

git clone git:// kakapo
cd kakapo
checkout tag PLA-version-1
parrot-nqp setup.nqp build
parrot-nqp setup.nqp install


Sorry Windows guys! At the moment PLA only runs on Linux and other Unixy systems. Windows support is planned for future releases, but didn't make it into this one.

Next Release

PLA releases are not on a regular schedule. A new release might not come out again until new features are added or until something in the toolchain becomes incompatible.

Here are a list of TO-DO features that will eventually make it into future releases:
  1. Bindings to the LAPACK library, to add more linear algebra utilities
  2. Windows support, including a Windows installer
  3. Writing bindings for other programming languages which run on Parrot, including Rakudo Perl 6.
  4. Adding additional types, including special vector types and multi-dimensional tensor types.
If any of these things interest you, or if you have other cool ideas, please feel free to let me know and get involved!

New Participants Welcome!

Interested in PLA or linear algebra in general? You can fork a copy of PLA and start contributing right now! I'm happy to talk to interested contributors, and to add patches for bugfixes and new features into the core repository. Please let me know if you're interested in helping out.

If you have specific feature requests that you would like to see added to PLA, but aren't able to implement them yourself, please let me know.


I want to offer a big thanks to the greater Parrot community for helping in various ways. PLA relies on several tools and libraries, the result of many man-hours of work by Parrot community contributors.

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