CryptoMiniSat 4.2 released

CryptoMiniSat 4.2 has been released. This release brings multi-threading, some bug fixes, and a lot of code cleanup.


Multi-threading has been implemented using the std::thread class of C++11. This makes it very portable and at the same time easy to use. Multi-threading is very simple and only shares unitary and binary learnt clauses. This is in comparison to other approaches that have some form of complex clause-sharing algorithms, sometimes even sharing clause databases. However, this system works when it’s used as a library, even with assumptions. Simply call set_num_threads(N) before calling any other functions.

The method used to speed up the system is the portfolio method, i.e. there are many threads started with different parameters and they share some information among them. The threads are configured as:

These configurations have been chosen because they seemed to have quite orthogonal parameters. Only 12 threads are properly configured, the rest are not really configured and are only cleaning a lot more clauses than normal (so as not to run out of memory). In a certain sense, the above is the “secret sauce” that makes the parallel system work.

Code cleanup

The code has been greatly refactored. This is an ongoing effort, but its fruits are already quite visible. In general, variable and function names are more meaningful, function sizes have been drastically cut and the expressiveness of the code has been improved.

Unfortunately, C++ (and C) are quite limiting in a number of ways, and so CryptoMiniSat might move to other languages such as Go. Go for example provides reflection and significantly improved compile times. These two are very useful for development: the former greatly simplifies testing while the latter allows for quicker build (and thus debug) cycles.

SMT Competition’14 and STP

The 2014 SMT competition‘s QF_BV divison is over, and the results are (copied from here):

SolverErrorsSolvedNot SolvedCPU time (solved instances)
Boolector02361127 138077.59
STP-CryptoMiniSat402283205 190660.82
[MathSAT]02199289 262349.39
[Z3]02180308 214087.66
CVC402166322 87954.62
4Simp02121367 187966.86
SONOLAR02026462 174134.49
Yices201770718 159991.55
abziz_min_features92155324 134385.22
abziz_all_features92093386 122540.04

First, let me congratulate Boolector by Armin Biere. STP came a not-so-close second. STP was meant to be submitted twice, once with MiniSat and once with CyrptoMiniSat4 — this is the only reason why the STP submission is called STP-CryptoMiniSat4. Unfortunately, the other submission could not be made because of some compilation problems.

About the results

There are a couple of things I would like to draw your attention to. First is the cumulated solving time of solved instances. Note how it decreases compared to MathSat and Z3. Note also the differences in the DIFF of the number of solved instances. It’s relatively small between 4Simp…MathSat(<40) and increases dramatically with STP and Boolector (with around 80 each).

Another thing of interest is that STP is surrounded by commercial products: Boolector, Z3 and MathSAT are all products you have to pay for to use in a commercial setting. In contrast, the biggest issue with STP is that if the optional(!) CryptoMiniSat4 is linked in, it’s LGPLv2 instead of MIT licensed. In other words, a lot of effort is in there, and it’s all free. Sometimes free as in beer, sometimes free as in freedom.

About STP

Lately, a lot of work has been done on STP. If you look a the github repository, it has about 80 issues resolved, about 40 open, lots of pull requests, and a lot of commits. A group of people, namely (in nickname order): Dan Liew, Vijay Ganesh, Khoo Yit Phang, Ryan Govostes, Trevor Hansen, a lot of external contributors (e.g. Stephen McCamant) and myself have been working on it pretty intensively. It now has a an automated test facility and a robust build system besides all the code cleanup and other improvements.

It’s a great team and I’m happy to be a minor part of it. If you feel like you could contribute, don’t hesitate to fork the repo, make some changes, and ask for a pull request. The discussions on the pull requests can be pretty elaborate which makes for a nice learning experience for all involved. Come and join — next year hopefully we’ll win :)

Multi-threading and startup speed

When doing multi-threading, parsing the input and inserting it into the solver threads is actually one of the most tricky part. Of course one can simply do

It works and my SAT solver entry to the competition used this method. However, if we have 12 threads, the startup time will be 12x more than usual since only one thread is adding the clauses to all the solvers. If startup used to be 3s, it’s suddenly more than half a minute.

A simple solution

A simple solution to this problem is to create threads and add the clauses to the threads individually. The problem with this is that creating 12 threads for each clause and destroying the threads for each is actually more time than to do what’s above.

The correct solution

The real solution is then to store the data to be added to the threads, and once a good number of them have been stored, add all the cached clauses to the solvers: create the 12 threads, for each thread add the clauses, and destroy the threads. This solution amortizes the creation&destruction of threads at the expense of storing clauses in a cache.

CryptoMiniSat now uses a clause cache for exactly this purpose. Naturally, this also necessitates a cache for variable creation, though that is only a counter, so not a big deal.

Final polish of my SAT competition entry

UPDATE: Fixed crash, UPDATE2: fixed looking for Gaussian elimination library

In the last days of the competition deadline, I have improved the following on the SAT solver:

  • Adding N new variables is now possible in one go. This reduces variable addition overhead, especially when having many threads.
  • Memory allocation overhead per new clause addition is now much smaller thanks to judicious use of globally allocated temporaries. Using such temporaries is very dangerous as CryptoMiniSat uses addClause() from multiple places in the code in a recursive manner. However, I only use the temporaries for add_clause_outer(), so things should be fine.
  • If more than 0.5M variables or 1.5M binary clauses are in the problem, on-the-fly hyper-binary resolution and transitive reduction is turned off during 1st-decision-level search. This is kind of like probing, but during search. However, unlike probing, it cannot time-out and switch off these systems in case they takes too much time.
  • Diversified the threads’ parameters. Also, I reduced the number of threads to 8. I wanted to run with 12, but it’s a bit dangerous from a memory-usage perspective: there is only 24GB available for 12 cores, which means 2GB/core. Some problems take more than 2GB just to parse into the watchlists.
  • Check total memory usage at startup of threads and if too much, halve the total number of threads. This is an emergency measure in case things go wild due to very weird CNF.

Overall these are small changes but allow for a much faster startup. For example a notorious problem, AProVE07-11.cnf, now starts in 2.5s instead of 4.5s. As far as I can tell, this is very similar to the startup time of lingeling on this instance. However, lingeling only uses 1/3rd the memory (~250MB) thanks to a more tight memory manager plus I suspect it doesn’t have a couple of datastructs that I keep around.

The other difference, about OTF hyper-binary resolution, allows for large problems to actually get to the point of solving instead of getting stuck at adding and removing useless binary clauses. Let’s hope all goes well for the competition :)

My SAT Competition 2014 entry

In case you want to download my SAT competition 2014 zipfile, you can do it now. You can port the changes that you added to CryptoMiniSatv4 — it should work out of the box. Nothing really important changed except some timeout fixes, bug fixes, threading, and fixing DRAT.

Unfortunately the SAT Competition’14 setup doesn’t have Boost’s program options, so I had to create a main_simple.cpp that compiles without Boost. It only supports options “–drat=1″, “–threads=N”, “–verbosity=N” and reading plain CNF files (not gzipped). This means you will have to edit SolverConf.cpp in case your changeset involves command line options. The command line options and their corresponding class variables are easy to look up in main.cpp, so changing SolverConf.cpp appropriately should not be difficult.

Good luck with the competition!