The GNU Scientific Library (GSL) is a numerical library for C and C++ programmers. It is free software under the GNU General Public License.
The library provides a wide range of mathematical routines such as random number generators, special functions and least-squares fitting. There are over 1000 functions in total with an extensive test suite.
The complete range of subject areas covered by the library includes,
|Complex Numbers||Roots of Polynomials|
|Special Functions||Vectors and Matrices|
|BLAS Support||Linear Algebra|
|Eigensystems||Fast Fourier Transforms|
|Quasi-Random Sequences||Random Distributions|
|N-Tuples||Monte Carlo Integration|
|Simulated Annealing||Differential Equations|
|Chebyshev Approximation||Series Acceleration|
|Discrete Hankel Transforms||Root-Finding|
|Physical Constants||IEEE Floating-Point|
|Discrete Wavelet Transforms||Basis splines|
Unlike the licenses of proprietary numerical libraries the license of GSL does not restrict scientific cooperation. It allows you to share your programs freely with others.
The current version is GSL-1.16. It was released on 19 July 2013. Details of recent changes can be found in the NEWS file. This is a stable release.
GSL can be found in the gsl subdirectory on your nearest GNU mirror http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/gsl/.
For other ways to obtain GSL, please read How to get GNU Software
Installation instructions can be found in the included README and INSTALL files.
Precompiled binary packages are included in most GNU/Linux distributions.
A compiled version of GSL is available as part of Cygwin on Windows (but we recommend using GSL on a free operating system, such as GNU/Linux).
GSL includes a 500 page reference manual in Texinfo format. You can print the manual in postscript or read it on your system using the shell command info gsl-ref (if the library is installed).
The GSL Reference Manual is available online,
The manual has been published as a printed book (under the GNU Free Documentation License), the latest edition is
GNU Scientific Library Reference Manual - Third Edition (January 2009),
M. Galassi et al, ISBN 0954612078 (paperback) RRP $39.95.
See www.network-theory.co.uk for ordering information.
A Japanese translation is also available online (may not be the most recent version).
A Portuguese translation is also available online.
GSL is developed on the following platform,
It has been reported to compile on the following other platforms,
We require that GSL should build on any UNIX-like system with an ANSI C compiler, so if doesn't, that's a bug and we would love a patch! The complete library should also pass "make check".
If you have found a bug, please report it to email@example.com.
Follow the links to the individual mailing lists below to subscribe or view the list archives:
You can also follow announcements via the Savannah GSL RSS feed.
Here are some of the main benefits of using a free scientific library under the GNU General Public License,
The library uses an object-oriented design. Different algorithms can be plugged-in easily or changed at run-time without recompiling the program.
It is intended for ordinary scientific users. Anyone who knows some C programming will be able to start using the library straight-away.
The interface was designed to be simple to link into very high-level languages, such as GNU Guile or Python
The library is thread-safe.
Where possible the routines have been based on reliable public-domain Fortran packages such as FFTPACK and QUADPACK, which the developers of GSL have reimplemented in C with modern coding conventions.
The library is easy to compile and does not have any dependencies on other packages.
GSL is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).
The reasons why the GNU Project uses the GPL are described in the following articles:
Additional information for researchers is available in the following article:
Some answers to common questions about the license:
If I write an application which uses GSL, am I forced to distribute that application?
No. The license gives you the option to distribute your application if you want to. You do not have to exercise this option in the license.
If I wanted to distribute an application which uses GSL, what license would I need to use?
The GNU General Public License (GPL).
The bottom line for commercial users:
GSL can be used internally ("in-house") without restriction, but only redistributed in other software that is under the GNU GPL.
If you would like to refer to the GNU Scientific Library in a journal article, the recommended way is to cite the reference manual, e.g. M. Galassi et al, GNU Scientific Library Reference Manual (3rd Ed.), ISBN 0954612078.
If you want to give a url, use "http://www.gnu.org/software/gsl/".
GSL requires a BLAS library for vector and matrix operations. The default CBLAS library supplied with GSL can be replaced by the tuned ATLAS library for better performance,
ATLAS is free software and its license is compatible with the GNU GPL.
Other packages that are useful for scientific computing are:
All these packages are free software (GNU GPL/LGPL).
GSL development is hosted on Savannah.gnu.org at
The repository is available via 'git' with
git clone git://git.savannah.gnu.org/gsl.git
Note: if you use git, you will need automake, autoconf, libtool, GNU m4, GNU make, and GNU Texinfo (makeinfo).
To begin the build process from a checkout, start with:
./autogen.sh which will prepare the package for compilation. You can then use
./configure --enable-maintainer-mode and
make in the usual way.
Commit notifications are available through the git repository news feed.
In addition to the GSL Reference Manual, anyone wanting to work on the library should read the GSL design document,
GSL is a mature library with a stable API. The main emphasis is on ensuring the stability of the existing functions, tidying up and fixing any bugs that are reported, and adding new, useful algorithms which have been well tested and documented. Potential contributors are encouraged to gain familiarity with the library by investigating and fixing known problems in the BUGS database.
The project is always looking to introduce new capabilities and expand or improve existing functionality. To maintain stability, any new functionality is encouraged as packages, built on top of GSL and maintained independently by their authors, as in other free software projects. The design of GSL permits extensions to be used alongside the existing library easily by simple linking. Once a new extension is proven useful and stable, it can be incorporated into the main GSL repository.
Discussions about the development of the library take place on the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list. Any comments from experts in numerical analysis are welcome. You can subscribe to gsl-discuss here.
GSL is part of the GNU Project and so follows the GNU Coding Standards.
The following third-party packages provide extensions to GSL.
If you want to add a feature to GSL we recommend that you make it an extension first. We will list it here so that people can try it out. Extensions can be incorporated after they have been tested in real use (see "How to help" for more information).
Some applications using GSL that we know of:
Wrappers for Other Languages (not necessarily complete):
A textbook on numerical physics, covering classical mechanics, electrodynamics, optics, statistical physics and quantum mechanics. The example programs in the book use the GNU Scientific Library and are free software (the source code is included on a CDROM with the book).
Further information about this book is available from the publisher at Springer.de.
The project was conceived in 1996 by Dr M. Galassi and Dr J. Theiler of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
They were joined by other physicists who also felt that the licenses of existing libraries were hindering scientific cooperation.
Most of the library has been written by a relatively small number of people with backgrounds in computational physics in order to provide a consistent and reasonably-designed framework.
Overall development of the library and the design and implementation of the major modules was carried out by Dr G. Jungman and Dr B. Gough. Modules were also written by Dr J. Davies, R. Priedhorsky, Dr M. Booth, and Dr F. Rossi, along with many useful contributions from others in the user community. Debian packages for the library are maintained by Dr D. Eddelbuettel.
The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Operating System. Support GNU and the FSF by buying manuals and gear, joining the FSF as an associate member, or making a donation, either directly to the FSF or via Flattr.