Multiple Backend Support

The dtcwt library currently provides three backends for computing the wavelet transform: a NumPy based implementation, an OpenCL implementation which uses the PyOpenCL bindings for Python, and a Tensorflow implementation which uses the Tensorflow bindings for Python.


The NumPy backend is the reference implementation of the transform. All algorithms and transforms will have a NumPy backend. NumPy implementations are written to be efficient but also clear in their operation.


Some transforms and algorithms implement an OpenCL backend. This backend, if present, will provide an identical API to the NumPy backend. NumPy-based input may be passed in and out of the backends but if OpenCL-based input is passed in, a copy back to the host may be avoided in some cases. Not all transforms or algorithms have an OpenCL-based implementation and the implementation itself may not be full-featured.

OpenCL support depends on the PyOpenCL package being installed and an OpenCL implementation being installed on your machine. Attempting to use an OpenCL backend without both of these being present will result in a runtime (but not import-time) exception.


If you want to take advantage of having a GPU on your machine, some transforms and algorithms have been implemented with a Tensorflow backend. This backend will provide an identical API to the NumPy backend. I.e. NumPy-based input may be passed to a tensorflow backend in the same manner as it was passed to the NumPy backend. In which case it will be converted to a tensorflow variable, the transform performed, and then converted back to a NumPy variable afterwards. This conversion between types can be avoided if a tensorflow variable is passed to the dtcwt Transforms.

The real speedup gained from using GPUs is obtained by parallel processing. For this reason, when using the tensorflow backend, the Transforms can accept batches of images. To do this, see the forward_channels and inverse_channels methods. More information is in the Tensorflow section.

Tensorflow support depends on the Tensorflow python package being installed in the current python environment, as well as the necessary CUDA + CUDNN libraries installed). Attempting to use a Tensorflow backend without the python package available will result in a runtime (but not import-time) exception. Attempting to use the Tensorflow backend without the CUDA and CUDNN libraries properly installed and linked will result in the Tensorflow backend being used, but operations will be run on the CPU rather than the GPU.

If you do not have a GPU, some speedup can still be seen for using Tensorflow with the CPU vs the plain NumPy backend, as tensorflow will naturally use multiple processors.

Which backend should I use?

The top-level transform routines, such as dtcwt.Transform2d, will automatically use the NumPy backend. If you are not primarily focussed on speed, this is the correct choice since the NumPy backend has the fullest feature support, is the best tested and behaves correctly given single- and double-precision input.

If you care about speed and need only single-precision calculations, the OpenCL or Tensorflow backends can provide significant speed-up. On the author’s system, the 2D transform sees around a times 10 speed improvement for the OpenCL backend, and a 8-10 times speed up for the Tensorflow backend.

Using a backend

The NumPy, OpenCL and Tensorflow backends live in the dtcwt.numpy, dtcwt.opencl, and modules respectively. All provide implementations of some subset of the DTCWT library functionality.

Access to the 2D transform is via a dtcwt.Transform2d instance. For example, to compute the 2D DT-CWT of the 2D real array in X:

>>> from dtcwt.numpy import Transform2d
>>> trans = Transform2d()           # You may optionally specify which wavelets to use here
>>> Y = trans.forward(X, nlevels=4) # Perform a 4-level transform of X
>>> imshow(Y.lowpass)               # Show coarsest scale low-pass image
>>> imshow(Y.highpasses[-1][:,:,0])   # Show first coarsest scale subband

In this case Y is an instance of a class which behaves like dtcwt.Pyramid. Backends are free to return whatever result they like as long as the result can be used like this base class. (For example, the OpenCL backend returns a dtcwt.opencl.Pyramid instance which keeps the device-side results available.)

The default backend used by dtcwt.Transform2d, etc can be manipulated using the dtcwt.push_backend() function. For example, to switch to the OpenCL backend

xfm = Transform2d()
# ... Transform2d, etc now use OpenCL ...

and to switch to the Tensorflow backend

xfm = Transform2d()
# ... Transform2d, etc now use Tensorflow ...

As is suggested by the name, changing the backend manipulates a stack behind the scenes and so one can temporarily switch backend using dtcwt.push_backend() and dtcwt.pop_backend()

# Run benchmark with NumPy

# Run benchmark with OpenCL

It is safer to use the dtcwt.preserve_backend_stack() function. This returns a guard object which can be used with the with statement to save the state of the backend stack

with dtcwt.preserve_backend_stack():

# Outside of the 'with' clause the backend is reset to numpy.

Finally the default backend may be set via the DTCWT_BACKEND environment variable. This is useful to run scripts with different backends without having to modify their source.