Setup & Workflow

It is recommended to create a separate project folder for each simulation or set of simulations and set it up as a Julia environment. In practice, this means launching Julia with julia --project=path/to/project both in interactive mode and when launching simulations.

It is further recommended to create a Julia script that defines and runs the simulation, as explained below. The same approach can be used for post-processing results, although it may be more convenient to use a Pluto.jl notebook.

Both for reproducibility and convenience, it is recommended to save the commands with which simulations, notebooks, etc. are run somewhere in the project, for example in a README file, a launch script, a Makefile, a justfile, or something similar.

Adding BoundaryLayerDynamics to the Project

To set up and run a simulation, the BoundaryLayerDynamics package needs to be in the Julia load path. This is best achieved by adding the package to the project-specific environment.

julia> import Pkg
julia> Pkg.add("BoundaryLayerDynamics")

Making Project-Specific Modifications

Simulations may require functionality that is not currently implemented in the BoundaryLayerDynamics package. New physical processes, time-integration methods, and output modules can be defined in the user code and simply passed to the package functions, although this may require adding a few methods to unexported functions.


Consider contributing on GitHub for functionality that may be of interest to others as well. It is recommended to open an issue to discuss new functionality before implementing it, as 1) there may already be partial implementations from other people, 2) we can discuss how the functionality is best integrated into the existing code, and 3) the functionality may be outside the scope of BoundaryLayerDynamics.jl.

If a project requires significant changes to the code, it may be easier to directly modify the code of BoundaryLayerDynamics.jl. There are a number of options to use such a modified version of the package in simulations:

  1. Clone the package repository and use that folder/project both for package modifications and simulation setup code.
  2. Push a clone with the required modifications to a separate GitHub repository and provide the full URL when adding the package to the simulation environment.
  3. Make modifications in a local clone of the package repository that is added to the simulation environment with develop. This way, any changes that are made to the BoundaryLayerDynamics code are reflected immediately and you do not have to run update unless you want to update other dependencies. The clone can be created by develop (with the --shared or --local arguments) or manually at a convenient location, possibly as a Git submodule or in a folder shared between multiple simulations.

Adding the parent folder of the BoundaryLayerDynamics package to the load path using push!(LOAD_PATH, ...) is possible but not recommended, as this requires that all dependencies of BoundaryLayerDynamics (such as the FFTW package) are installed manually.

Running Automated Tests

To (re-)run the automated tests, you can use the regular Pkg.test("BoundaryLayerDynamics") function or run just test if you have just installed.

The default mode runs all in both serial mode and with 4 MPI processes, but the behavior can be modified with command-line arguments or the test_args argument of Pkg.test. To run only a subset of the test/*_test.jl files, list the names of the tests to run as arguments. With --no-mpi, the tests are only run in serial mode, whereas --mpi=<number> launches <number> MPI processes and skips the serial tests. For example:

$ just test --mpi=8 advection diffusion

If you want to run the tests with the package versions of your current project environment, add the argument allow_reresolve=false to Pkg.test. Otherwise the tests are run in a temporary environment that may not use the same package versions and the same MPI library. Note that this still cleans up the LOAD_PATH – use the following to directly run the tests in your unmodified environment.

import Pkg
Pkg.add("MPI", preserve=Pkg.PRESERVE_ALL)
Pkg.add("HDF5", preserve=Pkg.PRESERVE_ALL)
Pkg.add("TimerOutputs", preserve=Pkg.PRESERVE_ALL)
pkg = Base.identify_package("BoundaryLayerDynamics")
dir = dirname(Base.locate_package(pkg))
include(joinpath(dir, "..", "test", "runtests.jl"))

Interactive Use

Once BoundaryLayerDynamics.jl is part of the project environment, it can be loaded with using BoundaryLayerDynamics as usual. Interactive use is only recommended for exploration and to access the built-in documentation. For running simulations and post-processing, it is better to write a script or create a notebook so the work is reproducible.

Simulation Scripts

To run simulations, it is recommended to write a script that configures the model and runs the time integration. An example is given here:

using BoundaryLayerDynamics, MPI

function run_dns()

    ν = 1e-4
    domain = Domain((4π, 2π, 2), SmoothWall(), SmoothWall())
    grid_size = (256, 192, 128)
    processes = incompressible_flow(ν, constant_flux = 1)
    abl = Model(grid_size, domain, processes)

    u0(x,y,z) = (1 - (z-1)^2)*3/2
    initialize!(abl, vel1 = u0)
    BoundaryLayerDynamics.State.add_noise!(abl.state.vel1, 1e-2)

    turnovers = 25
    dt = 1e-4
    steps_per_turnover = 5_000
    nt = turnovers * steps_per_turnover

    outdir = abspath("$(dirname(PROGRAM_FILE))/data")
    sfreq = div(steps_per_turnover, 10) * dt
    snapshots = Snapshots(path = joinpath(outdir, "snapshots"),
                          frequency = sfreq, precision = Float32)

    evolve!(abl, dt * nt, dt = dt, output = snapshots, verbose = true)


If this file is saved as simulation.jl, you can run the simulation for example with:

$ mpiexec -n 128 julia --project=path/to/project simulation.jl

If a simulation is run without mpiexec (or similar) or there is no call to MPI.Init before the simulation, the simulation is run with a single process, or possibly with many processes all running the same serial simulation.

Notebook Use

Notebooks are mainly useful for code development and post-processing, as they enable rapid, interactive iteration. Jupyter is probably the most well-known software for this, but for Julia code it is worth considering Pluto.jl instead. You can add Pluto to the project dependencies with Pkg.add("Pluto") and launch it with julia --project=path/to/project --eval 'using Pluto;'. On a remote system, you probably want to run with instead.

By default, Pluto creates a separate, internal project environment for each notebook. When working with BoundaryLayerDynamics.jl simulations, it is usually better to deactivate this functionality and use a single, shared project environment – mainly because Pluto does not have the equivalent of Pkg.develop, but also to ensure that simulations and post-processing use identical package versions. You can use the following code as the first notebook cell:

    LOAD_PATH = ["@", "@stdlib"] # to avoid loading globally-installed packages
    using Pkg; Pkg.activate(".") # disables the built-in package management
    using BoundaryLayerDynamics # add additional dependencies here (can also use `import`)

High-Performance Computing

Running simulations on HPC systems should work as expected by launching Julia from a batch script. If the system does not have Julia installed, downloading and unpacking the latest version should generally work.

However, there are a number of issues that may arise when working with MPI parallelization and HPC systems.

Choose MPI Library

MPI.jl provides its own MPI libraries by default. On most HPC systems, it is better to use the system-provided libraries instead. As documented here, this can be achieved by running MPI.MPIPreferences.use_system_binary().


Recent versions of the HDF5 library load their own MPI dependencies in a way that does may not match the system MPI and can result in crashes. See this issue for details and workarounds.

Avoid Precompilation Errors

The Julia package manager can run into errors, when multiple MPI processes try to do package operations at the same time. As documented here, it is therefore best to either trigger the precompilation from a single process before launching MPI processes or to run Julia with --compiled-modules=no.

Change Package Depot Path

By default, Julia saves downloaded packages inside the $HOME/.julia directory. On some systems, the home directory might not be available during simulations or its use may be discouraged. The JULIA_DEPOT_PATH environment variable can be used to change this path, for example by running export JULIA_DEPOT_PATH=$SCRATCH/julia-depot.