© 2007,2009-2012,2015,2016 John Abbott
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

CoCoALib Documentation Index


User Documentation

A GlobalManager object does some very simple management of global values and settings used by CoCoALib. You must create exactly one object of type GlobalManager before using any other feature of CoCoALib. Conversely, the GlobalManager object must be destroyed only after you have completely finished using CoCoALib values and operations. An easy way to achieve this is to create a local variable of type GlobalManager at the start of a top level procedure (e.g. main) -- see the CoCoALib example programs listed above.

Shortcut: most likely you will want to use one of the following at the start of your top-level procedure:

    GlobalManager CoCoAFoundations;                    // use default settings
    GlobalManager CoCoAFoundations(UseNonNegResidues); // printing preference
    GlobalManager CoCoAFoundations(UseGMPAllocator);   // faster but NOT THREADSAFE!

Important Notes

Constructors and pseudo-constructors

The ctor for a GlobalManager has one (optional) argument. This argument is used to specify the global settings, namely

  1. the type of memory manager to use for GMP values (namely big integers and rationals), and
  2. the printing convention for elements of rings of the form ZZ/m, viz. least non-negative residues or least magnitude (symmetric) residues.

The current defaults are to use the system memory mananger and symmetric residues.

Specifying the memory manager for BigInt values

CoCoALib BigInt values are implemented using the GMP library which needs to have access to a memory manager. There are three possibilities for specifying the memory manager for GMP:

IMPORTANT Be very careful with UseGMPAllocator:

Specifying the printing convention for modular integers

CoCoALib lets you choose between two conventions for printing elements of rings of the form ZZ/m:

You may ask CoCoALib which convention has been chosen using DefaultResidueSetting() see GlobalManager operations below.

Permitting the use of obsolescent functions

CoCoALib is actively evolving, and occasionally a function in an older version has to be changed (e.g. renamed, change of args). These functions are placed in a special file for obsolescent functions; so you can keep using (temporarily!) these functions in your code, you can include the special header file CoCoA/obsolescent.H in addition to CoCoA/library.H, and then you must tell the GlobalManager to allow the functions to be called.

The default is ForbidObsolescentFns.

Combining several global settings

To specify more than one global setting the individual specifiers should be combined using operator+, like this:

  GlobalManager CoCoAFoundations(UseNonNegResidues + UseGMPAllocator);

Combining incompatible or redundant specifiers will produce a run-time error: an exception of type CoCoA::ErrorInfo having error code ERR::BadGlobalSettings.

Similarly an exception will be thrown if you attempt to create more than one live GlobalManager object. The exception is of type CoCoA::ErrorInfo and has error code ERR::GlobalManager2.

CLEAN-UP FAILURE (at program end)

The destructor for the GlobalManager destroys all registered globals, and then checks that all CoCoALib values have been destroyed; if not, then an error message is printed on cerr (NB, no exception is thrown since the code is inside a destructor); for debugging intercept the function CoCoA::GlobalManager::DtorError which is the one that prints the message. If a clean-up failure occurs then the function CoCoA::GlobalManagerDtorFailed will return true (otherwise false).

It is possible that the program will crash after printing the error message.


Once the GlobalManager has been created you can use the following functions:

Registering Global Variables

We advise using global variables as little as possible (because obscure problems can arise if you use CoCoALib together with another library which sets some global state).

To help terminate cleanly a program using CoCoALib, you should register destructors for any global variables you use (which contain CoCoALib values). There are two separate ways to do this:

  1. RegisterDtorForGlobal(dtor) the dtor for GlobalManager will call dtor
  2. RegisterDtorForGlobal(dtor, ptr) the dtor for GlobalManager will call dtor(ptr)

These dtors are called in reverse order of registration. We recommend that you use the first form (which implies writing an explicit dtor fn for each global variable you use) since the second form may be removed in the future.

The Purpose of the GlobalManager

The concept of GlobalManager was created to handle in a clean and coherent manner (almost) all global values used by CoCoALib; in particular it was prompted by the decision to make the ring of integers a global value (and also the field of rationals). The tricky part was ensuring the orderly destruction of RingZZ and RingQQ before main exits. Recall that C++ normally destroys globals after main has completed, and that the order of destruction of globals cannot easily be governed; destroying values in the wrong order can cause to the program to crash just before it terminates. Another advantage of forcing destruction before main exits is that it makes debugging very much simpler (e.g. the MemPool object inside RingZZImpl will be destroyed while the input and output streams are still functioning, thus allowing the MemPool destructor to report any anomalies). And of course, it is simply good manners to clean up properly at the end of the program.

Maintainer Documentation

To implement the restriction that only one GlobalManager may exist at any one time, the first instruction in the ctor checks that the global variable GlobalManager::ourGlobalDataPtr is null. If it is null, it is immediately set to point the object being constructed. At the moment, this check is not threadsafe.

The ctor for GlobalManager is fairly delicate: e.g. the functions it calls cannot use the functions RingZZ() and RingQQ() since they will not work before the GlobalManager is registered.

The two functions MakeUniqueCopyOfRingZZ and MakeUniqueCopyOfRingQQ are supposed to be accessible only to the ctor of GlobalManager; they create the unique copies of those two rings which will be stored in the global data. The functions are defined in RingZZ.C and RingQQ.C respectively but do not appear in the corresponding header files (thus making them "invisible" to other users).

The dtor for GlobalManager checks that RingZZ and RingQQ are not referred to by any other values (e.g. ring elements which have been stored in global variables). A rude message is printed on cerr if the reference counts are too high, and a program crash is likely once the GlobalManager has been destroyed.


The GMPMemMgr class performs the necessary steps for setting the memory manager for GMP values. At the moment there are essentially two choices: use the system memory manager, or use a MemPool to handle the memory for small values. The first parameter to the ctor for GMPMemMgr says which sort of memory manager to use. If the system allocator is chosen, then the ctor does nothing (since the GMP default is the system manager); similarly nothing is done when the GMPMemMgr object is destroyed. The second argument is completely ignored when the system allocator is chosen.

The situation is more complicated if CoCoALib's custom allocator is to be used. The second argument specifies the slice size (in bytes) which is to be used -- the implementation may automatically increase this value to the next convenient value (see also the documentation for MemPool). The slice size defines what a GMP small value is: it is a value whose GMP internal representation fits into a single slice. The memory for small values is managed by a (global) MemPool, while the memory for larger values is managed by the standard malloc family of functions.

Since the only place a GMPMemMgr object appears is as a data field in a GlobalManager, we have an automatic guarantee that there will be at most one GMPMemMgr object in existence -- this fact is exploited (implicitly) in the ctor and dtor for GMPMemMgr when calling the GMP functions for setting the memory management functions.

Of the alloc/free/realloc functions which are handed to GMP, only CoCoA_GMP_realloc displays any complication. GMP limbs can be stored either in memory supplied by the MemPool belonging to a GMPAllocator object or in system allocated memory; a reallocation could cause the limbs to be moved from one sort of memory to the other.


The GlobalSettings class serves only to allow a convenient syntax for specifying the parameters to the GlobalManager ctor. The only mild complication is the operator+ for combining the ctor parameters, where we must check that nonsensical or ambiguous combinations are not built.

Bugs, Shortcomings, etc

2010 Sept 30