[llvm-dev] Writing loop transformations on the right representation is more productive

Uday Kumar Reddy Bondhugula via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Jan 30 02:39:48 PST 2020

Hi Michael,

On Thu, 30 Jan 2020 at 14:36, Michael Kruse <llvmdev at meinersbur.de> wrote:

> Am Mo., 27. Jan. 2020 um 22:06 Uhr schrieb Uday Kumar Reddy Bondhugula <
> uday at polymagelabs.com>:
>> Hi Michael,
>> Although the approach to use a higher order in-memory abstraction like
>> the loop tree will make it easier than what you have today, if you used
>> MLIR for this representation, you already get a round trippable textual
>> format that is *very close* to your form. The affine.for/if, std.for/if in
>> MLIR are nearly isomorphic to the tree representation you want, and as
>> such, this drastically reduces the delta between the in-memory data
>> structures your passes want to operate on and what you see when you print
>> the IR. Normally, there'd be resistance to building a textual form /
>> introducing a first class concept in the IR for what you are proposing, but
>> since this was already done for MLIR, it looks like it would be a big win
>> from a compiler developers' productivity standpoint if you just used MLIR
>> for this loop tree representation. With regard to the FAQ, I can't tell
>> whether you meant something else or missed the representation used in MLIR
>> for the affine dialect or in general for "ops with regions".
> The point of the proposal is not having a first-class construct for loops,
> but to allow speculative transformations. Please my response to Chris
> Lattner:

But that's now how your original post reads or opens with AFAICS.
Presentation aside, even if your central goal was to allow speculative
transformations, the same arguments hold. More below. (I had read your
responses to @clattner).

> https://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2020-January/138778.html
>> > Q: Relation to MLIR?
>> > A: MLIR is more similar to LLVM-IR than a loop hierarchy. For
>> It's completely the opposite unless you are looking only at MLIR's std
>> dialect! The affine dialect as well as the std.for/if (currently misnamed
>> as loop.for/loop.if) are actually a loop tree. The affine ops are just an
>> affine loop AST isomorphic to the materialization of polyhedral
>> domains/schedules via code generation. Every IST AST or the output of
>> polyhedral code generation can be represented in the affine dialect and
>> vice versa. MLIR's loop/if ops are a hierarchy rather than a flat form /
>> list of blocks CFG.
> As per my discussion with Chris Lattner, this is a very subjective
> question. It might be controversial, but I don't see MLIR regions as much
> more than syntactic sugar for inlined function calls that allow referencing
> the outer regions' definitions. This does not mean that I think they are
> they are useless, on the contrary.

There are multiple ways regions in MLIR can be viewed, but the more
relevant point here is you do have a loop tree structure native in the IR
with MLIR. Regions in MLIR didn't evolve from modeling inlined calls - the
affine.for/affine.if were originally the only two operations in MLIR that
could hold blocks (which in turn are a list of operations as you know) and
there wasn't anything by the name region. Later, "a list of blocks" was
renamed "region" in order to generalize and unify it with other concepts
that could be captured with "ops with regions", one of which is isomorphic
to a "just inlined" call as you view it. But that doesn't mean a loop tree
doesn't exist as a first class thing in the IR when you have the relevant
ops around -- there is a hierarchy.

> Regarding the affine dialect, I see the same problem that Polly has when
> creating a schedule tree representation: A lot of work has to be done to
> make IR originating from Clang compatible. Everything becomes easy if the
> front-end can generate an affine dialect out-of-the box.

Right - but for the purposes of your proposal, this isn't really relevant -
for that matter, one could just use the loop.for, loop.if ops if you don't
want to leverage affine restrictions. Moreover, with affine.graybox ops,
you can always use affine.for/if wherever you have structured loops
(otherwise, you would fall back to a flat list of blocks inside the region
of the graybox.) While directly generating the affine dialect maximally
from the frontend / Clang is one option, the other is to just generate
grayboxes with trivial affine.for/if (or just loop.for/if), and then
eliminate the grayboxes maximally within MLIR. This way things are reusable
across different frontends, and it would be similar to Polly's approach
except that you would be dealing with loops/multi-dimensional arrays where
possible instead of flat list of CFGs and GEPs.

>> > still have to be rediscovered. However, a loop hierarchy optimizer
>> > could be applied to MLIR just as well as to LLVM-IR.
>> This is true, but it's easier to apply it to MLIR because the actual IR
>> is close by miles to the in-memory thing your loop hierarchy optimizer
>> would be using. For eg., here's the input IR and the output IR of a simple
>> outer loop vectorization performed in MLIR:
>> https://github.com/bondhugula/llvm-project/blob/hop/mlir/test/Transforms/vectorize.mlir#L23
> Again, the proposal is about the in-memory representation using red/green
> trees

That's actually not how I read it. Red/green trees was *one* of the nine
items you mentioned in your list and this didn't come out as the central
idea in your opening paras, but let's go with this now that it's clearer to

> (which I firmly disagree with being close to MLIR's in-memory
> representation), not the textual format.

"close" isn't the right word here, "closer" is! Would you agree that the
representation you are proposing is closer to MLIR's representation (both
its in-memory and its textual representation) than to LLVM's or is this
proximity not really relevant for the purposes of your proposal? I think
it's important to know which among the two is the more important question.
Note that currently there is really very little difference between MLIR's
textual format for 'for'/if's and the in-memory form its passes use. The
passes don't create any in-memory higher order representations for these IR
units; they directly update them. There is nothing like the kind of
complementary abstractions you are proposing (for cost models, copy-wise,

~ Uday

> Michael

Founder and Director, PolyMage Labs
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