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8.4 Matrices

Matrices are defined by a gsl_matrix structure which describes a generalized slice of a block. Like a vector it represents a set of elements in an area of memory, but uses two indices instead of one.

The gsl_matrix structure contains six components, the two dimensions of the matrix, a physical dimension, a pointer to the memory where the elements of the matrix are stored, data, a pointer to the block owned by the matrix block, if any, and an ownership flag, owner. The physical dimension determines the memory layout and can differ from the matrix dimension to allow the use of submatrices. The gsl_matrix structure is very simple and looks like this,

typedef struct
  size_t size1;
  size_t size2;
  size_t tda;
  double * data;
  gsl_block * block;
  int owner;
} gsl_matrix;

Matrices are stored in row-major order, meaning that each row of elements forms a contiguous block in memory. This is the standard “C-language ordering” of two-dimensional arrays. Note that FORTRAN stores arrays in column-major order. The number of rows is size1. The range of valid row indices runs from 0 to size1-1. Similarly size2 is the number of columns. The range of valid column indices runs from 0 to size2-1. The physical row dimension tda, or trailing dimension, specifies the size of a row of the matrix as laid out in memory.

For example, in the following matrix size1 is 3, size2 is 4, and tda is 8. The physical memory layout of the matrix begins in the top left hand-corner and proceeds from left to right along each row in turn.

00 01 02 03 XX XX XX XX
10 11 12 13 XX XX XX XX
20 21 22 23 XX XX XX XX

Each unused memory location is represented by “XX”. The pointer data gives the location of the first element of the matrix in memory. The pointer block stores the location of the memory block in which the elements of the matrix are located (if any). If the matrix owns this block then the owner field is set to one and the block will be deallocated when the matrix is freed. If the matrix is only a slice of a block owned by another object then the owner field is zero and any underlying block will not be freed.

The functions for allocating and accessing matrices are defined in gsl_matrix.h

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