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This primer showcases Chapel domains as abstract concepts, primarily within the context of rectangular domains. For other uses of domains see the following primers:

A domain is a first-class representation of an index set used to specify iteration spaces, define arrays, and aggregate operations such as slicing.

Rectangular domains are used to represent rectangular index sets. Each dimension of a rectangular domain is specified by a range and thus can take on the shape of any range. See the Ranges primer (ranges.chpl) for more information.

Rectangular domains support a literal syntax that is a comma-separated list of range expressions enclosed in curly braces.

RD is an n by n by n domain.

config var n = 10;

var RD: domain(3) = {1..n, 1..n, 1..n};

Rectangular domains have a set of methods that enable convenient reuse of existing domains.

The expand method returns a new domain that is expanded or contracted depending on the sign of the offset argument.

var RDbigger = RD.expand((1,1,1));
var RDsmaller = RD.expand((-1,-1,-1));

The exterior method returns a new domain that is the exterior portion of the current domain. A positive offset specifies that the exterior should be taken from the high bound; a negative offset, the low bound.

var RDext_p = RD.exterior((1,1,1));
var RDext_n = RD.exterior((-1,-1,-1));

The interior method returns a new domain that is the interior portion of the current domain. The sign of the offset implies using the high or low bound as in the exterior case.

var RDint_p = RD.interior((1,1,1));
var RDint_n = RD.interior((-1,-1,-1));

The translate method returns a new domain that is the current domain translated by the offset.

var RDtrans_p = RD.translate((1,1,1));
var RDtrans_n = RD.translate((-1,-1,-1));

A subdomain is a domain that is declared in terms of a parent domain, causing it to have the same type as their parent. A subdomain represents a subset of its parent domain's index set, though this constraint is not currently enforced by the implementation.

Create rectangular subdomains.

var RSD1, RSD2 : subdomain(RD);

A subdomain is initially empty.

writeln("RSD1:", RSD1);
writeln("RSD2:", RSD2);

We can select parts of the original rectangular domain using slicing.

RSD1 = RD[..n/2, .., ..]; // This gives half of the domain
RSD2 = RD[n/2+1.., .., ..]; // And this the other half.

writeln("RSD1:", RSD1);
writeln("RSD2:", RSD2);


  • Subdomains of rectangular domains are regular unless they are explicitly declared to be sparse.
  • At present, range checking to ensure that a subdomain fits within its parent domain is unimplemented.

Create a sparse subdomain of a regular domain.

var SSD: sparse subdomain(RD);

writeln("SSD:", SSD); // Initially empty.

Add some indices to the sparse subdomain.

SSD += (1,2,3);
SSD += (4,5,6);
SSD += (7,8,9);
SSD += (9,10,1);

writeln("SSD:", SSD); // Now contains an unordered set of indices.


Checks to ensure that sparse subdomain indices lie within the parent domain have not been implemented.

For more information on domains, see the Domains chapter of the Chapel Language Specification.