The ‘local’ keyword

The ‘local’ Statement

This README describes the local statement in the Chapel language. Its definition and implementation is an area of ongoing work and it should be used with caution.


The local construct in Chapel performs runtime checks for any communication within the construct. If communication occurs, an error is reported. The checks are performed in the code within the lexical scope of the construct, as well as in all function calls performed by that code, directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly. The checks can be disabled with the --no-local-checks flag, which is implied by the --no-checks and --fast flags.

Communication occurs in the following cases:

  • remote memory (i.e. data not located on the current locale) is referenced (read from or assigned to), or

  • an on statement attempts to execute on a remote locale.

The local construct is useful to establish that certain code is communication free. This may be desired, for example, when tuning the performance of a program, as communication usually slows down execution.

The local construct does not necessarily indicate the cause of communication when present. See the CommDiagnostics module for ways to diagnose communication.


The local construct is a statement. It consists of the local keyword followed by a do statement or block:

    "local" [condition] do statement
    "local" [condition] block-statement


Here is an example of a local statement:

local do
  x = A(5);

The inner statement is often a block, commonly referred to as a “local block”:

local {

In the above examples, the Chapel implementation checks whether x, as well as all memory referenced during the calls of A.this(5) (an implicit call for A(5)), initializeMyData(), and compute(), are located on the current locale. Otherwise an error is reported. Analogously, if on statement(s) are executed during these calls that attempt to execute on a different locale, an error is reported.

Conditional local

The local statement behavior can be controlled via the optional conditional expression.

local data.locale == here {

The above example will be localized only if data resides in the current locale. Conditional local statement above compiled identically as:

if data.locale == here {
  local {
else {

This implies that local statements in outer dynamic/static scopes will override the inner ones. i.e. if data.locale == here evaluates to true, localized bodies of initializeMyData and compute will be used whether they have any local statement, or not. (This includes local false blocks).

The ‘local do on’ Statement

The local do on construct in Chapel performs an on-statement on a sublocale within the current node. For example:

for i in 0..#here.getChildCount() {
  local do on here.getChild(i) {
    writeln("On sublocale ", here);

When the --local-checks flag is enabled, a runtime check will be inserted to confirm that the on-statement is performed within the same node. --local-checks is enabled by default and can be disabled with --no-local-checks, --no-checks, or --fast.

For example this complete program would produce a runtime error if the number of locales is greater than one:

var LastLocale = Locales[numLocales-1];
local do on LastLocale {
  writeln("On remote locale ", LastLocale);


> ./local-on-err -nl 2
local-on-err.chpl:2: error: Local-on is not local

This program begins executing on Locale 0, so when the local do on attempts to execute on a different node (the last Locale) we see a runtime error.

The local do on construct functions similarly to a normal on-statement in all other ways. Note that it is unrelated to local statements or local blocks, and that it has no impact on what communication is or is not allowed (other than where the on-statement can execute).

With this information the compiler can reduce overhead associated with wide pointers and hopefully improve performance.