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variable command

Syntax:

variable name style args ... 

Examples:

variable x index run1 run2 run3 run4 run5 run6 run7 run8
variable LoopVar loop $n
variable MyValue equal 5.0*exp(v_energy/(v_boltz*v_Temp))
variable beta equal v_temp/3.0
variable temp world 300.0 310.0 320.0 ${Tfinal}
variable x universe 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
variable x uloop 15 

Description:

This command assigns one or more strings to a variable name for evaluation later in the input script or during a simulation.

Variables can be used in several ways in SPPARKS. A variable can be referenced elsewhere in an input script to become part of a new input command. For variable styles that store multiple strings, the next command can be used to increment which string is assigned to the variable. Variables of style equal can be evaluated to produce a single numeric value which can be output directly via the print command.

In the discussion that follows, the "name" of the variable is the arbitrary string that is the 1st argument in the variable command. This name can only contain alphanumeric characters and underscores. The "string" is one or more of the subsequent arguments. The "string" can be simple text as in the 1st example above, it can contain other variables as in the 2nd example, or it can be a formula as in the 3rd example. The "value" is the numeric quantity resulting from evaluation of the string. Note that the same string can generate different values when it is evaluated at different times during a simulation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When a variable command is encountered in the input script and the variable name has already been specified, the command is ignored. This means variables can NOT be re-defined in an input script (with 2 exceptions, read further). This is to allow an input script to be processed multiple times without resetting the variables; see the jump or include commands. It also means that using the command-line switch -var will override a corresponding variable setting in the input script.

There are two exceptions to this rule. First, variables of style equal ARE redefined each time the command is encountered. This allows them to be reset, when their formulas contain a substitution for another variable, e.g. $x. This can be useful in a loop. This also means an equal-style variable will re-define a command-line switch -var setting, so an index-style variable should be used for such settings instead, as in bench/in.lj.

Second, as described below, if a variable is iterated on to the end of its list of strings via the next command, it is removed from the list of active variables, and is thus available to be re-defined in a subsequent variable command.


This section of the manual explains how occurrences of a variable name in an input script line are replaced by the variable's string. The variable name can be referenced as $x if the name "x" is a single character, or as ${LoopVar} if the name "LoopVar" is one or more characters.

As described below, for variable styles index, loop, universe, and uloop, which string is assigned to a variable can be incremented via the next command. When there are no more strings to assign, the variable is exhausted and a flag is set that causes the next jump command encountered in the input script to be skipped. This enables the construction of simple loops in the input script that are iterated over and then exited from.


For the index style, one or more strings are specified. Initially, the 1st string is assigned to the variable. Each time a next command is used with the variable name, the next string is assigned. All processors assign the same string to the variable.

Index style variables with a single string value can also be set by using the command-line switch -var; see this section for details.

The loop style is identical to the index style except that the strings are the integers from 1 to N. This allows generation of a long list of runs (e.g. 1000) without having to list N strings in the input script. Initially, the string "1" is assigned to the variable. Each time a next command is used with the variable name, the next string ("2", "3", etc) is assigned. All processors assign the same string to the variable.

For the world style, one or more strings are specified. There must be one string for each processor partition or "world". See this section of the manual for information on running SPPARKS with multiple partitions via the "-partition" command-line switch. This variable command assigns one string to each world. All processors in the world are assigned the same string. The next command cannot be used with equal style variables, since there is only one value per world. This style of variable is useful when you wish to run different simulations on different partitions.

For the universe style, one or more strings are specified. There must be at least as many strings as there are processor partitions or "worlds". See this page for information on running SPPARKS with multiple partitions via the "-partition" command-line switch. This variable command initially assigns one string to each world. When a next command is encountered using this variable, the first processor partition to encounter it, is assigned the next available string. This continues until all the variable strings are consumed. Thus, this command can be used to run 50 simulations on 8 processor partitions. The simulations will be run one after the other on whatever partition becomes available, until they are all finished. Universe style variables are incremented using the files "tmp.spparks.variable" and "tmp.spparks.variable.lock" which you will see in your directory during such a SPPARKS run.

The uloop style is identical to the universe style except that the strings are the integers from 1 to N. This allows generation of long list of runs (e.g. 1000) without having to list N strings in the input script.


For the equal style, a single string is specified which represents a formula that will be evaluated afresh each time the variable is used. If you want spaces in the string, enclose it in double quotes so the parser will treat it as a single argument. For equal style variables the formula computes a scalar quantity, which becomes the value of the variable whenever it is evaluated.

Note that equal variables can produce different values at different stages of the input script or at different times during a run.

The next command cannot be used with equal style variables, since there is only one string.

The formula for an equal variable can contain a variety of quantities. The syntax for each kind of quantity is simple, but multiple quantities can be nested and combined in various ways to build up formulas of arbitrary complexity. For example, this is a valid (though strange) variable formula:

variable x equal "2.0 + v_MyTemp / pow(v_Volume,1/3)" 

Specifically, an formula can contain numbers, math operations, and references to other variables.

Number 0.2, 100, 1.0e20, -15.4, etc
Constants PI
Keywords time, nglobal
Math operations (), -x, x+y, x-y, x*y, x/y, x^y, sqrt(x), exp(x), ln(x), log(x), sin(x), cos(x), tan(x), asin(x), acos(x), atan(x), ceil(x), floor(x), round(x)
Other variables v_abc, v_n

The keywords currently allowed in a formula are time and nglobal. Time is the current simulation time. Nglobal is the number of sites in the model.

Math operations are written in the usual way, where the "x" and "y" in the examples above can be another section of the formula. Operators are evaluated left to right and have the usual precedence: unary minus before exponentiation ("^"), exponentiation before multiplication and division, and multiplication and division before addition and subtraction. Parenthesis can be used to group one or more portions of a formula and enforce a desired order of operations. Additional math operations can be specified as keywords followed by a parenthesized argument, e.g. sqrt(v_ke). Note that ln() is the natural log; log() is the base 10 log. The ceil(), floor(), and round() operations are those in the C math library. Ceil() is the smallest integer not less than its argument. Floor() if the largest integer not greater than its argument. Round() is the nearest integer to its argument.

The current values of other variables can be accessed by prepending a "v_" to the variable name. This will cause that variable to be evaluated.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you define variables in circular manner like this:

variable a equal v_b
variable b equal v_a
print $a 

then SPPARKS will run for a while when the print statement is invoked!

Another way to reference a variable in a formula is using the $x form instead of v_x. There is a subtle difference between the two references that has to do with when the evaluation of the included variable is done.

Using a $x, the value of the include variable is substituted for immediately when the line is read from the input script, just as it would be in other input script command. This could be the desired behavior if a static value is desired. Or it could be the desired behavior for an equal-style variable if the variable command appears in a loop (see the jump and next commands), since the substitution will be performed anew each time thru the loop as the command is re-read. Note that if the variable formula is enclosed in double quotes, this prevents variable substitution and thus an error will be generated when the variable formula is evaluated.

Using a v_x, the value of the included variable will not be accessed until the variable formula is evaluated. Thus the value may change each time the evaluation is performed. This may also be desired behavior.

As an example, if the current simulation box volume is 1000.0, then these lines:

variable x equal vol
variable y equal 2*$x 

will associate the equation string "2*1000.0" with variable y.

By contrast, these lines:

variable x equal vol
variable y equal 2*v_x 

will associate the equation string "2*v_x" with variable y.

Thus if the variable y were evaluated periodically during a run where the box volume changed, the resulting value would always be 2000.0 for the first case, but would change dynamically for the second case.


Restrictions:

All universe- and uloop-style variables defined in an input script must have the same number of values.

Related commands:

next, jump, include, print

Default: none