Chapter 11: Frequently Asked Questions

11.1: Questions about installation

I downloaded Blitz++, but when I try to gunzip it, I get "invalid compressed data--crc error".

You forgot to set binary download mode in ftp. Do so with the "binary" command.

The compiler complains that there is no Array class, even though I've included <blitz.h>.

You need to have the line:

using namespace blitz;

after including <blitz.h>.

I can't use gcc on my elderly PC because it requires 45-150 Mb to compile with Blitz++

Unfortunately this is true. If this problem is ever fixed, it will be by the gcc developers, so my best suggestion is to post a bug report to the gcc-bugs list.

I am using gcc under Solaris, and I get errors about "relocation against external symbol".

This problem can be fixed by installing the gnu linker and binutils. Peter Nordlund found that by using gnu-binutils-2.9.1, this problem disappeared. You can read a detailed discussion at

I am using gcc under Solaris, and the assembler gives me an error that a symbol is too long.

This problem can also be fixed by installing the gnu linker and binutils. See the above question.

DECcxx reports problems about "templates with C linkage"

This problem was caused by a problem in some versions of DECcxx's math.h header: XOPEN_SOURCE_EXTENDED was causing an extern "C" { ... } section to have no closing brace. There is a kludge which is included in recent versions of Blitz++.

On some platforms (especially SGI) the testsuite program minsumpow fails with the error: Template instantiation resulted in an unexpected function type of...

This is a known bug in the older versions of the EDG front end, which many C++ compilers use. There is no known fix. Most of Blitz++ will work, but you won't be able to use some array reductions.

11.2: Questions about Blitz++ functionality

For my problem, I need SVD, FFTs, QMRES, PLU, QR, ....

Blitz++ does not currently provide any of these. However, there are numerous C++ and C packages out there which do, and it is easy to move data back and forth between Blitz++ and other libraries. See these terms in the index: creating an array from pre-existing data, data(), stride(), extent(), fortranArray. For a list of other numerical C++ libraries, see the Object Oriented Numerics Page at

Can Blitz++ be interfaced with Python?

Phil Austin has done so successfully. See a description of his setup in

Also see Harry Zuzan's Python/Blitz image processing example code at

If I try to allocate an array which is too big, my program just crashes or goes into an infinite loop. Is there some way I can handle this more elegantly?

Blitz++ uses new to allocate memory for arrays. In theory, your compiler should be throwing a bad_alloc exception when you run out of memory. If it does, you can use a try/catch block to handle the out of memory exception. If your compiler does not throw bad_alloc, you can install your own new handler to handle out of memory.

Here is an excerpt from the ISO/ANSI C++ standard which describes the behaviour of new:

  • Executes a loop: Within the loop, the function first attempts to allocate the requested storage. Whether the attempt involves a call to the Standard C library function malloc is unspecified.

  • Returns a pointer to the allocated storage if the attempt is successful. Otherwise, if the last argument to set_new_handler() was a null pointer, throw bad_alloc.

  • Otherwise, the function calls the current new_handler ( If the called function returns, the loop repeats.

  • The loop terminates when an attempt to allocate the requested storage is successful or when a called new_handler function does not return.

  • You can use set_new_handler to create a new handler which will issue an error message or throw an exception. For example:

    void my_new_handler()
    cerr << "Out of memory" << endl;
    // First line in main():

    When I pass arrays by value, the function which receives them can modify the array data. Why?

    It's a result of reference-counting. You have to think of array objects as being "handles" to underlying arrays. The function doesn't receive a copy of the array data, but rather a copy of the handle. The alternative would be to copy the array data when passing by value, which would be grossly inefficient.

    Why can't I use e.g. A >> 3 to do bitshifting on arrays?

    The operators << and >> are used for input/ouput of arrays. It would cause problems with the expression templates implementation to also use them for bitshifting. However, it is easy enough to define your own bitshifting function -- see 3.10.

    When I write TinyMatrix * TinyVector I get an error.

    Try product(d2,d1). This works for matrix-matrix and matrix-vector products.