Using the NFFT

In this tutorial, we assume that you are already familiar with the non-uniform discrete Fourier transform and the NFFT library used for fast computation of NDFTs.

Like the FFTW library, the NFFT library relies on a specific data structure, called a plan, which stores all the data required for efficient computation and re-use of the NDFT. Each plan is tailored for a specific transform, depending on the geometry, level of precomputation and design parameters. The NFFT manual contains comprehensive explanation on the NFFT implementation.

The pyNFFT package provides a set of Pythonic wrappers around the main data structures of the NFFT library. Use of Python wrappers allows to simplify the manipulation of the library, whilst benefiting from the significant speedup provided by its C-implementation. Although the NFFT library supports many more applications, only the NFFT and iterative solver components have been wrapped so far.

This tutorial is split into three main sections. In the first one, the general workflow for using the core of the pynfft.NFFT class will be explained. Then, the pynfft.NFFT class API will be detailed and illustrated with examples for the univariate and multivariate cases. Finally, the pynfft.Solver iterative solver class will be briefly presented.


For users already familiar with the NFFT C-library, the workflow is basically the same. It consists in the following three steps:

  1. instantiation
  2. precomputation
  3. execution

In step 1, information such as the geometry of the transform or the desired level of precomputation is provided to the constructor, which takes care of allocating the internal arrays of the plan.

Precomputation (step 2) can be started once the location of the non-uniform nodes have been set to the plan. Depending on the size of the transform and level of precomputation, this step may take some time.

Finally (step 3), the forward or adjoint NFFT is computed by first setting the input data in either f_hat (forward) or f (adjoint), calling the corresponding function, and reading the output in f (forward) or f_hat (adjoint).

Using the NFFT

The core of this library is encapsulated in the pyfftw.NFFT class.


The bare minimum to instantiate a new pynfft.NFFT plan is to specify the geometry to the transform, i.e. the shape of the matrix containing the uniform data N and the number of non-uniform nodes M.

>>> from pynfft.nfft import NFFT
>>> plan = NFFT([16, 16], 92)
>>> print plan.M
>>> print plan.N
(16, 16)

More control over the precision, storage and speed of the NFFT can be gained by overriding the default design parameters m, n and flags. For more information, please consult the NFFT manual.


Precomputation must be performed before calling any of the transforms. The user can manually set the nodes of the NFFT object using the pynfft.nfft.NFFT.x attribute before calling the pynfft.nfft.NFFT.precompute() method.

>>> plan.x = x
>>> plan.precompute()


The actual forward and adjoint NFFT are performed by calling the pynfft.nfft.NFFT.trafo() and pynfft.nfft.NFFT.adjoint() methods.

>>> # forward transform
>>> plan.f_hat = f_hat
>>> f = plan.trafo()
>>> # adjoint transform
>>> plan.f = f
>>> f_hat = plan.adjoint()

Using the iterative solver


The instantiation of a pynfft.solver.Solver object requires an instance of pynfft.nfft.NFFT. The following code shows you a simple example:

>>> from pynfft import NFFT, Solver
>>> plan = NFFT(N, M)
>>> infft = Solver(plan)

It is strongly recommended to use an already precomputed pynfft.nfft.NFFT object to instantiate a pynfft.solver.Solver object, or at the very least, make sure to call its precompute method before using solver.

Since the solver will typically run several iterations before converging to a stable solution, it is also strongly encourage to use the maximum level of precomputation to speed-up each call to the NFFT. Please check the paragraph regarding the choice of precomputation flags for the pynfft.nfft.NFFT.

By default, the pynfft.solver.Solver class uses the Conjugate Gradient of the first kind method (CGNR flag). This may be overriden in the constructor:

>>> infft = Solver(plan, flags='CGNE')

Convergence to a stable solution can be significantly speed-up using the right pre-conditioning weights. These can accessed by the pynfft.solver.Solver.w and pynfft.solver.Solver.w_hat attributes. By default, these weights are set to 1.

>>> infft = Solver(plan)
>>> infft.w = w

using the solver

Before iterating, the solver has to be intialized. As a reminder, make sure the pynfft.nfft.NFFT object used to instantiate the solver has been precomputed. Otherwise, the solver will be in an undefined state and will not behave properly.

Initialization of the solver is performed by first setting the non-uniform samples pynfft.solver.Solver.y, an initial guess of the solution pynfft.solver.Solver.f_hat_iter and then calling the pynfft.solver.Solver.before_loop() method.

>>> infft.y = y
>>> infft.f_hat_iter = f_hat_iter
>>> infft.before_loop()

By default, the initial guess of the solution is set to 0.

After initialization of the solver, a single iteration can be performed by calling the pynfft.solver.Solver.loop_one_step() method. With each iteration, the current solution is written in the pynfft.solver.Solver.f_hat_iter attribute.

>>> infft.loop_one_step()
>>> print infft.f_hat_iter
>>> infft.loop_one_step()
>>> print infft.f_hat_iter

The pynfft.Solver class only supports one iteration at a time. It is at the discretion to implement the desired stopping condition, based for instance on a maximum iteration count or a threshold value on the residuals. The residuals can be read in the pynfft.solver.Solver.r_iter attribute. Below are two simple examples:

  • with a maximum number of iterations:
>>> niter = 10  # set number of iterations to 10
>>> for iiter in range(niter):
>>>     infft.loop_one_step()
  • with a threshold value:
>>> threshold = 1e-3
>>> try:
>>>     while True:
>>>         infft.loop_one_step()
>>>         if(np.all(infft.r_iter < threshold)):
>>>             raise StopCondition
>>> except StopCondition:
>>>     # rest of the algorithm

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