[Numpy-discussion] CTypes: How to incorporate a library with shared library module?

Damian Eads eads@soe.ucsc....
Mon Feb 11 23:50:30 CST 2008

Dear Lou,

You may want to try using distutils or setuputils, which makes compiling 
extensions much easier. It does the hard work of finding out which flags 
are needed to compile extensions on the host platform. There are many 
examples on the web on how to use distutils to build C extensions 

PyGSL interfaces with numpy, and it may have what you need. The trouble 
with calling GSL directly from ctypes is GSL's input and output is very 
structure-oriented, which complicates the python/C logic. Like you 
mentioned, GSL is pretty big, and you'd like to avoid loading it in its 

Even if you write your own shared library module that links against GSL, 
GSL might still get loaded in its entirety when your own shared library 
gets loaded. There is a mode argument with C's dlopen and the 
ctypes.CDLL function. dlopen supports a RTLD_LAZY flag (see man dlopen), 
which you can try passing to ctypes.CDLL, but I'm not sure what will 
happen since the ctypes documentation makes no mention of it.

Here is a quick example of how to call a C function from python using 

/** Sum num_elements numbers and return the result. **/
extern int myfunc(int *numbers, int num_elements) {
   int i, sum = 0;
   for (i = 0; i < num_elements; i++) {
      sum += numbers[i];
   return sum;

# First compile the source
$ gcc -DNDEBUG -O2 -g -pipe -Wall -fstack-protector -D_GNU_SOURCE -fPIC 
-I/usr/include/python2.5 -c foo.c -o foo.o

# Now link it.
$ gcc -pthread -shared foo.o -L/usr/lib -lpython2.5 -o foo.so

# Now run it in python.
$ ipython

In [1]: import numpy, ctypes
         # Load the shared library we just created
In [2]: foo=ctypes.CDLL('./foo.so')
         # Create a numpy array of ints
In [3]: A=numpy.array([1,2,3],dtype='int')
         # Set the return type we expect.
In [4]: foo.myfunc.restype = ctypes.c_int
         # Call the C function.
In [5]: print foo.myfunc(A.ctypes.data, ctypes.c_int(3))

I hope this helps.


Lou Pecora wrote:
> I will be writing some C code that I will compile into a shared library 
> (.so) on my MacOSX computer to use with ctypes.  That code will be 
> calling code from a (big) scientific numerical library (Gnu Scientific 
> Library - GSL) to crunch the numbers.  But I don't see how I incorporate 
> that code into the  .so file so my shared code can get to it when I call 
> it from Python with ctypes.  I do _not_ want to make the GSL callable 
> from Python, only from my own C module.  I suspect this isn't a ctypes 
> question in particular.  I'm hoping to avoid having to tur the whole GSL 
> into a shared library and loading it just to use a few functions.  Or 
> avoid having to track down which functions my code will call (all the 
> way down the trees) and rip that out to add to my own shared lib.  
> There's got to be a better way to make use of big, useful libraries when 
> speeding up python with shared lib extension.  I hope.
> Maybe there are ways to do this using a gcc or g++ option.  Right now my 
> make file is simply
> gcc - bundle -flat_namespace -undefined suppress -o mycode.so    mycode.o
> gcc -c mycode.c  -o mycode.o
> Any hints appreciated.  I will continue googling. Nothing so far.  Thanks.
> -- Lou Pecora, my views are my own.
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