[1911.09421] The Linear Algebra Mapping Problem
This investigation aims not only to showcase the capabilities and limitations of high-level languages for matrix computations, but also to serve as a guide for the future development of such languages.

Abstract. We observe a disconnect between the developers and the end users of linear algebra libraries. On the one hand, the numerical linear algebra and the high-performance communities invest significant effort in the development and optimization of highly sophisticated numerical kernels and libraries, aiming at the maximum exploitation of both the properties of the input matrices, and the architectural features of the target computing platform. On the other hand, end users are progressively less likely to go through the error-prone and time consuming process of directly using said libraries by writing their code in C or Fortran; instead, languages and libraries such as Matlab, Julia, Eigen and Armadillo, which offer a higher level of abstraction, are becoming more and more popular. Users are given the opportunity to code matrix computations with a syntax that closely resembles the mathematical description; it is then a compiler or an interpreter that internally maps the input program to lower level kernels, as provided by libraries such as BLAS and LAPACK. Unfortunately, our experience suggests that in terms of performance, this translation is typically vastly suboptimal. In this paper, we first introduce the Linear Algebra Mapping Problem, and then investigate how effectively a benchmark of test problems is solved by popular high-level programming languages and libraries. Specifically, we consider Matlab, Octave, Julia, R, C++ with Armadillo, C++ with Eigen, and Python with NumPy; the benchmark is meant to test both standard compiler optimizations such as common subexpression elimination and loop-invariant code motion, as well as linear algebra specific optimizations such as optimal parenthesization for a matrix product and kernel selection for matrices with properties. The aim of this study is to give concrete guidelines for the development of languages and libraries that support linear algebra computations.
‹ (Experiment #6: Optimal Parenthesization)