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Version: develop

Type System

Taichi is a statically typed programming language: The type of a variable in the Taichi scope is determined at compile time; once a variable is declared, you cannot assign to it a value of a different type.

Let's see a quick example:

def test():
x = 1 # x is the integer 1
x = 3.14 # x is an integer, so the value 3.14 is cast to 3 and x takes the value 3
x = ti.Vector([1, 1]) # Error!
  • Line 3: x is an integer because it is assigned an integer value the first time it is declared.
  • Line 4: x is reassigned a floating-point number 3.14 but takes the value 3. This is because 3.14 is automatically cast to integer 3 to match the type of x.
  • Line 5: The system throws an error, because ti.Vector cannot be cast into an integer.

Taichi's ti.types module defines all the supported data types, and they are classified into two categories: primitive types and compound types.

  • Primitive types refer to various commonly-used numerical data types, such as ti.i32 (int32), ti.u8 (uint8), and ti.f64 (float64).
  • Compound types refer to various array-like or struct-like data types, including ti.types.matrix, ti.types.ndarray, and ti.types.struct. Compound types comprise multiple members of primitive types or of other compound types.

Primitive types

Primitive types refer to scalars, which are the smallest building blocks of compound types. Each primitive type is denoted with a character indicating its category followed by a number indicating its precision bits (number of bits for storing the data). The category can be i (signed integers), u (unsigned integers), or f (floating-point numbers); the precision bits can be 8, 16, 32, or 64. Following are the two most commonly used types:

  • i32: 32-bit signed integer
  • f32 : 32-bit floating-point number.

Not all backends support Taichi's primitive types. See the following table for how a primitive type is supported by various backends. Note that some backends may require extensions to support a specific primitive type.


⭕: Requiring extensions for the backend.

Customize default primitive types

When initializing the Taichi runtime, Taichi automatically uses the following data types as the default primitive data types:

  • ti.i32: the default integer type.
  • ti.f32: the default floating-point type.

Taichi allows you to specify the default primitive data type(s) when calling init():

ti.init(default_ip=ti.i64)  # Sets the default integer type to ti.i64
ti.init(default_fp=ti.f64) # Sets the default floating-point type to ti.f64

The numeric literals in the Taichi scope also have default integer/floating-point types. For example, if the default floating-point type is ti.f32, then a numeric literal 3.14159265358979 in the Taichi scope suffers a precision loss because it is cast to a 32-bit floating-point number, which has a precision of about seven decimal digits.

If you are working on a high-precision application scenario, such as numeric simulation for engineering, set default_fp as ti.f64.

Set default primitive type alias

Taichi supports using int as the alias for the default integer type and float as the alias for the default floating-point type. For example, after changing the default primitive types to i64 and f64, you can use int as the alias for i64 and float as the alias for f64.

ti.init(default_ip=ti.i64, default_fp=ti.f64)

x = ti.field(float, 5)
y = ti.field(int, 5)
# Is equivalent to:
x = ti.field(ti.f64, 5)
y = ti.field(ti.i64, 5)

def func(a: float) -> int:
# Is equivalent to:
def func(a: ti.f64) -> ti.i64:

Explicit type casting

As mentioned at the beginning of this document, the type of a variable in the Taichi scope is statically typed upon initialization. Taichi's compiler performs type checking at compile time, meaning that you cannot change a variable's type once it is initialized. However, from time to time, you may run into situations where you need to switch to a different data type because the original is not feasible for an assignment or calculation. In such situations, you need explicit type casting:

  • You can use ti.cast() to convert a value to the target type:

    def foo():
    a = 3.14
    b = ti.cast(a, ti.i32) # 3
    c = ti.cast(b, ti.f32) # 3.0
  • As of v1.1.0, Taichi allows you to use primitive types such as ti.f32 and ti.i64 to convert a scalar variable to a different scalar type:

    def foo():
    a = 3.14
    x = int(a) # 3
    y = float(a) # 3.14
    z = ti.i32(a) # 3
    w = ti.f64(a) # 3.14

Implicit type casting

Implicit type casting happens when you accidentally put or assign a value where a different data type is expected.


As a rule of thumb, implicit type casting is a major source of bugs. And Taichi does not recommend resorting to this mechanism.

Implicit type casting can happen in binary operations or in assignments, as explained below.

Implicit type casting in binary operations

Taichi implements its own implicit type casting rules for binary operations, which are slightly different from those for the C programming language. In general we have three rules in descending order of priority:

  1. Integer + floating point -> floating point

    • i32 + f32 -> f32
    • i16 + f16 -> f16
  2. Low-precision bits + high-precision bits -> high-precision bits

    • i16 + i32 -> i32
    • f16 + f32 -> f32
    • u8 + u16 -> u16
  3. Signed integer + unsigned integer -> unsigned integer

    • u32 + i32 -> u32
    • u8 + i8 -> u8

When it comes to rule conflicts, the rule of the highest priority applies:

  • u8 + i16 -> i16 (when rule #2 conflicts with rule #3, rule #2 applies.)
  • f16 + i32 -> f16 (when rule #1 conflicts with rule #2, rule #1 applies.)

A few exceptions:

  • bit-shift operations return lhs' (left hand side's) data type:
    • u8 << i32 -> u8
    • i16 << i8 -> i16
  • Logical operations return i32.
  • Comparison operations return i32.

Implicit type casting in assignments

When you assign a value to a variable of a different data type, Taichi implicitly casts the value into that type. Further, if the value is of a higher precision than the variable, a warning of precision loss will be printed.

  • Example 1: Variable a is initialized with type float and immediately reassigned 1. The reassignment implicitly casts 1 from int to float without warning:

    def foo():
    a = 3.14
    a = 1
    print(a) # 1.0
  • Example 2: Variable a is initialized with type int and immediately reassigned 3.14. The reassignment implicitly casts 3.14 from float to int with a warning because the type of a is int and has a lower precision than float:

    def foo():
    a = 1
    a = 3.14
    print(a) # 3

Compound types

Compound types are user-defined data types, which comprise multiple elements. Supported compound types include vectors, matrices, ndarrays, and structs.

Taichi allows you to use all types supplied in the ti.types module as scaffolds to customize higher-level compound types.


The ndarray type is discussed in another document interacting with External Arrays.

Matrices and vectors

You can use the two functions ti.types.matrix() and ti.types.vector() to create your own matrix and vector types:

vec4d = ti.types.vector(4, ti.f64)  # a 64-bit floating-point 4D vector type
mat4x3i = ti.types.matrix(4, 3, int) # a 4x3 integer matrix type

You can use these customized types to instantiate vectors and matrices or annotate the data types of function arguments and struct members. For example:

v = vec4d(1, 2, 3, 4)  # Create a vector instance, here v = [1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0]

def length(w: vec4d): # vec4d as type hint
return w.norm()

def test():

Struct types and dataclass

You can use the funtion ti.types.struct() to create a struct type. Try customizing compound types to represent a sphere in the 3D space, which can be abstracted with its center and radius. In the following example, you call ti.types.vector() and ti.types.struct() to create compound types vec3 and sphere_type, respectively. These two types are the higher-level compound types that fit better with your scenario. Subsequently, you can use them as templates to create two instances of spheres (initialize two local variables sphere1 and sphere2):

# Define a compound type vec3 to represent a sphere's center
vec3 = ti.types.vector(3, float)
# Define a compound type sphere_type to represent a sphere
sphere_type = ti.types.struct(center=vec3, radius=float)
# Initialize sphere1, whose center is at [0,0,0] and whose radius is 1.0
sphere1 = sphere_type(center=vec3([0, 0, 0]), radius=1.0)
# Initialize sphere2, whose center is at [1,1,1] and whose radius is 1.0
sphere2 = sphere_type(center=vec3([1, 1, 1]), radius=1.0)

When a struct contains many members, ti.types.struct may make your code look messy. Taichi offers a more intuitive way to define a struct: The decorator @ti.dataclass is a thin wrapper of the struct type:

class Sphere:
center: vec3
radius: float

The code above serves the same purpose as the line below does but provides better readability:

Sphere = ti.types.struct(center=vec3, radius=float)

Another advantage of using @ti.dataclass over ti.types.struct is that you can define member functions in a dataclass and call them in the Taichi scope, making object-oriented programming (OOP) possible. See the objective data-oriented programming for more information.


Just as you do with any other data type, you can call a compound type directly to create vector, matrix, or struct instances in Taichi.

As of v1.1.0, Taichi supports more options for initializing a struct or a dataclass.

  • Pass positional arguments to a struct in the order they are defined.
  • Pass keyword arguments to a struct to set the corresponding struct members.
  • Unspecified struct members are automatically set to zero.

For example:

class Ray:
ro: vec3
rd: vec3
t: float

# The definition above is equivalent to
#Ray = ti.types.struct(ro=vec3, rd=vec3, t=float)
# Use positional arguments to set struct members in order
ray = Ray(vec3(0), vec3(1, 0, 0), 1.0)
# ro is set to vec3(0) and t will be set to 0
ray = Ray(vec3(0), rd=vec3(1, 0, 0))
# both ro and rd are set to vec3(0)
ray = Ray(t=1.0)
# ro is set to vec3(1), rd=vec3(0) and t=0.0
ray = Ray(1)
# All members are set to 0
ray = Ray()

You can create vectors, matrices, and structs using GLSL-like broadcast syntax because their shapes are already known.

Type casting

For now, the only compound types that support type casting in Taichi are vectors and matrices. Type casting of vectors and matrices is element-wise and results in new vectors and matrices being created:

def foo():
u = ti.Vector([2.3, 4.7])
v = int(u) # ti.Vector([2, 4])
# If you are using ti.i32 as default_ip, this is equivalent to:
v = ti.cast(u, ti.i32) # ti.Vector([2, 4])