Multi-Level IR Compiler Framework

Testing Guide

Quickstart commands 

These commands are explained below in more detail. All commands are run from the cmake build directory build/, after building the project.

Run all MLIR tests: 

cmake --build . --target check-mlir

Run integration tests (requires -DMLIR_INCLUDE_INTEGRATION_TESTS=ON): 

cmake --build . --target check-mlir-integration

Run C++ unit tests: 

bin/llvm-lit -v tools/mlir/Unit

Run lit tests in a specific directory 

bin/llvm-lit -v tools/mlir/test/Dialect/Arithmetic

Run a specific lit test file 

bin/llvm-lit -v tools/mlir/test/Dialect/Polynomial/ops.mlir

Test categories 

lit and FileCheck tests 

FileCheck is a tool that “reads two files (one from standard input, and one specified on the command line) and uses one to verify the other.” One file contains a set of CHECK tags that specify strings and patterns expected to appear in the other file. MLIR utilizes lit to orchestrate the execution of tools like mlir-opt to produce an output, and FileCheck to verify different aspects of the IR—such as the output of a transformation pass.

The source files of lit/FileCheck tests are organized within the mlir source tree under mlir/test/. Within this directory, tests are organized roughly mirroring mlir/include/mlir/, including subdirectories for Dialect/, Transforms/, Conversion/, etc.


An example FileCheck test is shown below:

// RUN: mlir-opt %s -cse | FileCheck %s

// CHECK-LABEL: func.func @simple_constant
func.func @simple_constant() -> (i32, i32) {
  // CHECK-NEXT: %[[RESULT:.*]] = arith.constant 1
  // CHECK-NEXT: return %[[RESULT]], %[[RESULT]]

  %0 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  %1 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  return %0, %1 : i32, i32

A comment with RUN represents a lit directive specifying a command line invocation to run, with special substitutions like %s for the current file. A comment with CHECK represents a FileCheck directive to assert a string or pattern appears in the output.

The above test asserts that, after running Common Subexpression Elimination (-cse), only one constant remains in the IR, and the sole SSA value is returned twice from the function.

Build system details 

The main way to run all the tests mentioned above in a single invocation can be done using the check-mlir target:

cmake --build . --target check-mlir

Invoking the check-mlir target is roughly equivalent to running (from the build directory, after building):

./bin/llvm-lit tools/mlir/test

See the Lit Documentation for a description of all options.

Subsets of the testing tree can be invoked by passing a more specific path instead of tools/mlir/test above. Example:

./bin/llvm-lit tools/mlir/test/Dialect/Arithmetic

# Note that it is possible to test at the file granularity, but since these
# files do not actually exist in the build directory, you need to know the
# name.
./bin/llvm-lit tools/mlir/test/Dialect/Arithmetic/ops.mlir

Or for running all the C++ unit-tests:

./bin/llvm-lit tools/mlir/Unit

The C++ unit-tests can also be executed as individual binaries, which is convenient when iterating on cycles of rebuild-test:

# Rebuild the minimum amount of libraries needed for the C++ MLIRIRTests
cmake --build . --target tools/mlir/unittests/IR/MLIRIRTests

# Invoke the MLIRIRTest C++ Unit Test directly

# It works for specific C++ unit-tests as well:
LIT_OPTS="--filter=MLIRIRTests -a" cmake --build . --target check-mlir

# Run just one specific subset inside the MLIRIRTests:
tools/mlir/unittests/IR/MLIRIRTests --gtest_filter=OpPropertiesTest.Properties

Lit has a number of options that control test execution. Here are some of the most useful for development purposes:

  • --filter=REGEXP : Only runs tests whose name matches the REGEXP. Can also be specified via the LIT_FILTER environment variable.
  • --filter-out=REGEXP : Filters out tests whose name matches the REGEXP. Can also be specified via the LIT_FILTER_OUT environment variable.
  • -a : Shows all information (useful while iterating on a small set of tests).
  • --time-tests : Prints timing statistics about slow tests and overall histograms.

Any Lit options can be set in the LIT_OPTS environment variable. This is especially useful when using the build system target check-mlir.


# Only run tests that have "python" in the name and print all invocations.
LIT_OPTS="--filter=python -a" cmake --build . --target check-mlir

# Only run the array_attributes python test, using the LIT_FILTER mechanism.
LIT_FILTER="python/ir/array_attributes" cmake --build . --target check-mlir

# Run everything except for example and integration tests (which are both
# somewhat slow).
LIT_FILTER_OUT="Examples|Integrations" cmake --build . --target check-mlir

Note that the above use the generic cmake command for invoking the check-mlir target, but you can typically use the generator directly to be more concise (i.e. if configured for ninja, then ninja check-mlir can replace the cmake --build . --target check-mlir command). We use generic cmake commands in documentation for consistency, but being concise is often better for interactive workflows.

Diagnostic tests 

MLIR provides rich source location tracking that can be used to emit errors, warnings, etc. from anywhere throughout the codebase, which are jointly called diagnostics. Diagnostic tests assert that specific diagnostic messages are emitted for a given input program. These tests are useful in that they allow checking specific invariants of the IR without transforming or changing anything.

Some examples of tests in this category are:

  • Verifying invariants of operations
  • Checking the expected results of an analysis
  • Detecting malformed IR

Diagnostic verification tests are written utilizing the source manager verifier handler, which is enabled via the verify-diagnostics flag in mlir-opt.

An example .mlir test running under mlir-opt is shown below:

// RUN: mlir-opt %s -split-input-file -verify-diagnostics

// Expect an error on the same line.
func.func @bad_branch() { ^missing  // expected-error {{reference to an undefined block}}

// -----

// Expect an error on an adjacent line.
func.func @foo(%a : f32) {
  // expected-error@+1 {{invalid predicate attribute specification: "foo"}}
  %result = arith.cmpf "foo", %a, %a : f32

Integration tests 

Integration tests are FileCheck tests that verify functional correctness of MLIR code by running it, usually by means of JIT compilation using mlir-cpu-runner and runtime support libraries.

Integration tests don’t run by default. To enable them, set the -DMLIR_INCLUDE_INTEGRATION_TESTS=ON flag during cmake configuration as described in Getting Started.

cmake -G Ninja ../llvm \
   ... \

Now the integration tests run as part of regular testing.

cmake --build . --target check-mlir

To run only the integration tests, run the check-mlir-integration target.

cmake --build . --target check-mlir-integration

The source files of the integration tests are organized within the mlir source tree by dialect (for example, test/Integration/Dialect/Vector).

Hardware emulators 

The integration tests include some tests for targets that are not widely available yet, such as specific AVX512 features (like vp2intersect) and the Intel AMX instructions. These tests require an emulator to run correctly (lacking real hardware, of course). To enable these specific tests, first download and install the Intel Emulator. Then, include the following additional configuration flags in the initial set up (X86Vector and AMX can be individually enabled or disabled), where <path to emulator> denotes the path to the installed emulator binary. sh cmake -G Ninja ../llvm \ ... \ -DMLIR_INCLUDE_INTEGRATION_TESTS=ON \ -DMLIR_RUN_X86VECTOR_TESTS=ON \ -DMLIR_RUN_AMX_TESTS=ON \ -DINTEL_SDE_EXECUTABLE=<path to emulator> \ ... After this one-time set up, the tests run as shown earlier, but will now include the indicated emulated tests as well.

C++ Unit tests 

Unit tests are written using the googletest framework and are located in the mlir/unittests/ directory.

Contributor guidelines 

In general, all commits to the MLIR repository should include an accompanying test of some form. Commits that include no functional changes, such as API changes like symbol renaming, should be tagged with NFC (No Functional Changes). This signals to the reviewer why the change doesn’t/shouldn’t include a test.

lit tests with FileCheck are the preferred method of testing in MLIR for non-erroneous output verification.

Diagnostic tests are the preferred method of asserting error messages are output correctly. Every user-facing error message (e.g., op.emitError()) should be accompanied by a corresponding diagnostic test.

When you cannot use the above, such as for testing a non-user-facing API like a data structure, then you may write C++ unit tests. This is preferred because the C++ APIs are not stable and subject to frequent refactoring. Using lit and FileCheck allows maintainers to improve the MLIR internals more easily.

FileCheck best practices 

FileCheck is an extremely useful utility, it allows for easily matching various parts of the output. This ease of use means that it becomes easy to write brittle tests that are essentially diff tests. FileCheck tests should be as self-contained as possible and focus on testing the minimal set of functionalities needed. Let’s see an example:

// RUN: mlir-opt %s -cse | FileCheck %s

// CHECK-LABEL: func.func @simple_constant() -> (i32, i32)
func.func @simple_constant() -> (i32, i32) {
  // CHECK-NEXT: %result = arith.constant 1 : i32
  // CHECK-NEXT: return %result, %result : i32, i32
  // CHECK-NEXT: }

  %0 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  %1 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  return %0, %1 : i32, i32

The above example is another way to write the original example shown in the main FileCheck tests section. There are a few problems with this test; below is a breakdown of the no-nos of this test to specifically highlight best practices.

  • Tests should be self-contained.

This means that tests should not test lines or sections outside of what is intended. In the above example, we see lines such as CHECK-NEXT: }. This line in particular is testing pieces of the Parser/Printer of FuncOp, which is outside of the realm of concern for the CSE pass. This line should be removed.

  • Tests should be minimal, and only check what is absolutely necessary.

This means that anything in the output that is not core to the functionality that you are testing should not be present in a CHECK line. This is a separate bullet just to highlight the importance of it, especially when checking against IR output.

If we naively remove the unrelated CHECK lines in our source file, we may end up with:

// CHECK-LABEL: func.func @simple_constant
func.func @simple_constant() -> (i32, i32) {
  // CHECK-NEXT: %result = arith.constant 1 : i32
  // CHECK-NEXT: return %result, %result : i32, i32

  %0 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  %1 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  return %0, %1 : i32, i32

It may seem like this is a minimal test case, but it still checks several aspects of the output that are unrelated to the CSE transformation. Namely the result types of the arith.constant and return operations, as well the actual SSA value names that are produced. FileCheck CHECK lines may contain regex statements as well as named string substitution blocks. Utilizing the above, we end up with the example shown in the main FileCheck tests section.

// CHECK-LABEL: func.func @simple_constant
func.func @simple_constant() -> (i32, i32) {
  /// Here we use a substitution variable as the output of the constant is
  /// useful for the test, but we omit as much as possible of everything else.
  // CHECK-NEXT: %[[RESULT:.*]] = arith.constant 1
  // CHECK-NEXT: return %[[RESULT]], %[[RESULT]]

  %0 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  %1 = arith.constant 1 : i32
  return %0, %1 : i32, i32