Type Inference

StableHLO was originally bootstrapped from the MHLO dialect, and it inherited the MHLO implementation of type inference. The implementation progress is tracked in status.md.

The proposed guidelines below are intended to ensure the implementation of high-quality verifiers and shape functions for StableHLO ops.


These proposals apply to both revisiting existing implementations, and achieving new ops until a comprehensive coverage.

(P1) Use the StableHLO spec as the source of truth

The spec is the source of truth for all verifiers and shape functions of the StableHLO ops. The existing verifiers and shape functions of every op need to be revisited to be fully aligned with the specification. Note that the specification document keeps evolving. In cases where the spec for an op is not available, the XLA implementation should be used as the source of truth instead, including xla/service/shape_inference.cc and xla/service/hlo_verifier.cc. The XLA implementation doesn't cover unbounded dynamism, so for unbounded dynamism we'll apply common sense until the dynamism RFC is available.

(P2) Make the most of ODS

ODS files (like StablehloOps.td) define ops with traits and types for each operand/attribute/result and will do the verifications. Thus NO verification code is needed in the verifiers or shape functions for the properties which are already guaranteed by the ODS. Remove the verification code if duplicated with ODS, as they will never be triggered.

Do we need to add tests for the constraints from the ODS? Please see Establish testing guidelines.

(P3) Maintain verification code in verifiers and shape functions


  • verifiers: implemented by Op::verify(), and
  • shape functions: implemented by InferTypeOpInterfaces like Op::inferReturnTypes() or Op::inferReturnTypeComponents

may have verification code to check operands/attributes/results. An initial split might be as follows: Let the verifiers check the operands/attributes, then let shape functions only calculate inferred result types and check the compatibility against the real result types. However, in reality this split has a few problems:

  • The shape function can be called by the autogenerated build() functions, without calling the verifier first. So the related inputs must be verified in the shape function as well.
  • Duplicated code: For example in verifiers we do some processing on the operands and then verify some intermediate results. Then in shape functions these intermediate results are useful for inferring the final results. These intermediate results have to be calculated twice.
  • Maintenance burden: Verifications of an op are contained in two different methods.

The solution is as follows:

  1. For most ops without regions (like PadOp): Put all the verification code into the shape functions, and discard verifiers totally.

  2. For ops with regions (like ReduceOp/IfOp; a full list is here): The autogenerated builders don't take regions as parameters, so if these builders involve type inference, then the shape function will be called with empty regions (see this example).

    1. If the regions are not needed for type inference (like ReduceOp), put the region related verification logic in verifiers instead of the shape functions. Duplicate some code if it is inevitable.

    2. If the regions are needed for type inference (IfOp/CaseOp/MapOp), then additionally the shape function must verify the regions are not empty explicitly, even though the ODS may already guarantee its existence in the Op definition.

(P4) Establish testing guidelines

Do we need to add/maintain tests for verifications that are covered by ODS?

We do not. The tests should focus on the verifiers and shape functions, while changes to ODS need a revisit of this op.

But stay careful about the missing pieces: for example, if the op contains the trait SameOperandsAndResultShape, which checks only shapes but not element type, then the verification for element types of operands/results still needs tests.

Where do we put tests for verifiers and type inference?

ops_stablehlo.mlir contains the positive cases of ops, and (at least) 1 negative test for every verification error. It is also able to check that the inferred return type is compatible with (not the same as!) the real result type.

infer_stablehlo.mlir verifies the existence of the shape function of an op by line with hlo_test_infer.get_return_type_components"(%x):... and checks that the inferred type matches exactly as expected. One positive test per op in general.

What to do

When implementing or revisiting the verifier and/or shape function of an op:

  1. Put all positive cases and negative cases in ops_stablehlo.mlir.

  2. Add a single positive test in infer_stablehlo.mlir to test the interface.

  3. (Optional) If an op is complicated and could contain a lot of tests, consider adding a separate test file named verify_<op_name>.mlir or verify_<your_topic>.mlir within the same folder.