Here is a quick introduction to get you started with Tamaas.

Installation from PyPI

If you have a Linux system, or have installed the Windows Subsystem for Linux, you can simply run python3 -m pip install tamaas. This installs the latest stable version of Tamaas from PyPI. You can get the latest cutting-edge build of Tamaas with:

python3 -m pip install \
  --extra-index-url https://gitlab.com/api/v4/projects/19913787/packages/pypi/simple \


To limit the number of statically linked dependencies in the wheel package, the builds that can be installed via PyPI or the GitLab package registery do not include parallelism or architecture specific optimizations. If you want to execute Tamaas in parallel, or want to improve performance, it is highly recommanded that you install with Spack or compile from source with the instructions below.

Installation with Spack

If you have Spack installed (e.g. in an HPC environment), you can install Tamaas with the following:

spack install tamaas

This will install an MPI-enabled version of tamaas with Scipy solvers. The command spack info tamaas shows the build variants. To disable MPI, you should disable MPI in the FFTW variant:

spack install tamaas ^fftw~mpi

The Spack package for Tamaas allows installation from the repository with spack install tamaas@master.

You can also use Spack to create container recipes with spack containerize. Here’s an example spack.yaml for Tamaas which creates an image with OpenMPI and NetCDF so that Tamaas can be executed in parallel within the container with Singularity:

    build_jobs: 2
- matrix:
    - [py-mpi4py, py-netcdf4, tamaas@master+solvers]
    - ["^openmpi@4 fabrics=ofi,psm2,ucx schedulers=none"]
    unify: true
    format: singularity
    os: ubuntu:20.04
    spack: develop
        - gfortran

Docker image

We provide Docker images that are automatically built and pused to the Gitlab registry for compatibility reasons (mainly with macOS). To get the latest image simply run:

docker pull registry.gitlab.com/tamaas/tamaas
# to rename for convenience
docker tag registry.gitlab.com/tamaas/tamaas tamaas

Then you can run scripts directly:

docker run -v $PWD:/app -t tamaas python3 /app/your_script.py
# or
docker run tamaas tamaas surface --sizes 16 16 --cutoffs 4 4 8 --hurst 0.8 | docker run -i tamaas tamaas contact 0.1 > results.npy


The provided Docker image and Dockerfile offer limited customization options and are hard-wired to use OpenMPI. If the use case/goal is to run in HPC environements, containers generated with Spack should be preferred, as they allow greater flexibility in the dependency selection and installed packages.

The Dockerfile at the root of the Tamaas repository can be used to build an image containing Tamaas with a full set of dependencies and customize the build options. Simply run:

docker build -t tamaas .


The following arguments can be passed to docker to customize the Tamaas build (with the --build-arg flag for docker build):

  • BACKEND: parallelism model for loops

  • FFTW_THREADS: parallelism model for FFTW3

  • USE_MPI: compile an MPI-parallel version of Tamaas

See below for explanations.

Singularity container

A singularity container can be created from the docker image with:

singularity build tamaas.sif docker://registry.gitlab.com/tamaas/tamaas

To run the image with MPI:

mpirun singularity exec --home=$PWD tamaas.sif python3 <your_script>

Installation from source

First make sure the following dependencies are installed for Tamaas:

  • a C++ compiler with full C++14 and OpenMP support

  • SCons (python build system)

  • FFTW3

  • thrust (1.9.2+)

  • boost (pre-processor)

  • python 3+ with numpy

  • pybind11 (included as submodule)

  • expolit (included as submodule)

Optional dependencies are:

  • an MPI implementation

  • FFTW3 with MPI/threads/OpenMP (your pick) support

  • scipy (for nonlinear solvers)

  • uvw, h5py, netCDF4 (for dumpers)

  • googletest and pytest (for tests)

  • Doxygen and Sphinx (for documentation)


On a HPC environment, use the following variables to specify where the dependencies are located:







You can use the provided Dockerfile to build an image with the external dependencies installed.

You should first clone the git repository with the submodules that are dependencies to tamaas (pybind11 and googletest):

git clone --recursive https://gitlab.com/tamaas/tamaas.git

The build system uses SCons. In order to compile Tamaas with the default options:


After compiling a first time, you can edit the compilation options in the file build-setup.conf, or alternatively supply the options directly in the command line:

scons option=value [...]

To get a list of all build options and their possible values, you can run scons -h. You can run scons -H to see the SCons-specific options (among them -j n executes the build with n threads and -c cleans the build). Note that the build is aware of the CXX and CXXFLAGS environment variables.

Once compiled, you can install the python module with:

scons install prefix=/your/prefix

The above command automatically calls pip(3) if it is installed, and falls back on setuptools otherwise. If you do not want to install Tamaas, you can use the following command:

scons dev

This creates a symlink in ~/.local/lib/<python version>/site-packages and is equivalent to pip(3) install -e or ./setup.py develop. You can check that everything is working fine with:

python3 -c 'import tamaas; print(tamaas)'

Important build options

Here are a selected few important compilation options:


Controls the type of build, which essentially changes the optimisation level (-O0 for debug, -O2 for profiling and -O3 for release) and the amount of debug information. Default type is release. Accepted values are:

  • release

  • debug

  • profiling


Compiler (uses the environment variable CXX by default).


Compiler flags (uses the environment variable CXXFLAGS by default). Useful to add tuning flags (e.g. -march=native -mtune=native for GCC or -xHOST for Intel), or additional optimisation flags (e.g. -flto for link-time optimization).


Controls the Thrust parallelism backend. Defaults to omp for OpenMP. Accepted values are:

  • omp: OpenMP

  • cpp: Sequential

  • tbb (unsupported): Threading Building Blocks


Controls the FFTW thread model. Defaults to omp for OpenMP. Accepted values are:

  • omp: OpenMP

  • threads: PThreads

  • none: Sequential


Activates MPI-parallelism (boolean value).

More details on the above options can be found in Performance.

Building the docs

Documentation is built using scons doc. Make sure to have the correct dependencies installed (they are already provided in the Docker image).

Running the contact pipe tools

Once installed, the python package provides a tamaas command, which defines three subcommands that can be used to explore the mechanics of elastic rough contact:

  • surface generates randomly rough surfaces (see Random rough surfaces)

  • contact solves an elastic contact problem with a surface read from stdin (see Solving contact)

  • plot plots the surface tractions and displacements read from stdin

Here’s a sample command line for you to try out:

tamaas surface --cutoffs 2 4 64 --size 512 512 --hurst 0.8 | tamaas contact 1 | tamaas plot

Check out the help of each command (e.g. tamaas surface -h) for a description of the arguments.

Running the tests

You need to activate the build_tests option to compile the tests:

scons build_tests=True

Tests can then be run with the scons test command. Make sure you have pytest installed.