Getting Started With RAJA

This section will help get you up and running with RAJA quickly.


The primary requirement for using RAJA is a C++11 compliant compiler. Accessing various programming model back-ends requires that they be supported by the compiler you chose. Available options and how to enable or disable them are described in Build Configuration Options. To build and use RAJA in its simplest form requires:

  • C++ compiler with C++11 support
  • CMake version 3.8.2 or greater for most back-ends, and version 3.9 or greater for CUDA.

Get the Code

The RAJA project is hosted on GitHub. To get the code, clone the repository into a local working space using the command:

$ git clone --recursive

The --recursive argument above is needed to pull in other projects that we use as Git submodules. Currently, we have only two:

You probably don’t need to know much about either of these projects to start using RAJA. But, if you want to know more, click on the links above.

After running the clone command, a copy of the RAJA repository will reside in a RAJA subdirectory where you ran the clone command. You will be on the develop branch of RAJA, which is our default branch.

If you forget to pass the --recursive argument to the git clone command, you can type the following commands after cloning:

$ cd RAJA
$ git submodule init
$ git submodule update

Either way, the end result is the same and you should be good to go.


Any time you switch branches in RAJA, you need to re-run the ‘git submodule update’ command to set the Git submodules to what is used by the new branch.

Build and Install

Building and installing RAJA can be very easy or more complicated, depending on which features you want to use and how well you understand how to use your system.

Building RAJA

RAJA uses CMake to configure a build. A basic configuration looks like:

$ mkdir build-dir && cd build-dir
$ cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/path/to/install ../


Builds must be out-of-source. RAJA does not allow building in the source directory, so you must create a build directory.

When you run CMake, it will provide output about the compiler that has been found and which features are discovered. Some RAJA features, like OpenMP support are enabled if they are discovered. For a complete summary of configuration options, please see Build Configuration Options.

After CMake successfully completes, you compile RAJA by executing the make command in the build directory; i.e.,:

$ cd build-dir
$ make

If you have access to a multi-core system you can compile in parallel by running make -j (to build with all available cores) or make -j N to build using N cores.


RAJA is configured to build its unit tests by default. If you do not disable them with the appropriate CMake option, you can run them after the build completes to check if everything compiled properly. The easiest way to do this is to type:

$ make test

after the build completes.

You can also run individual tests by invoking individual test executables directly. They live in subdirectories in the test directory. RAJA tests use the Google Test framework, so you can also run tests via Google Test commands.

Installing RAJA

To install RAJA as a library, run the following command in your build directory:

$ make install

This will copy RAJA header files to the include directory and the RAJA library will be installed in the lib directory you specified using the -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX CMake option.

Learning to Use RAJA

If you want to view and run a very simple RAJA example code, a good place to start is located in the file: RAJA/examples/daxpy.cpp. After building RAJA with the options you select, the executable for this code will reside in the file: <build-dir>/examples/bin/daxpy. Simply type the name of the executable in your build directory to run it; i.e.,:

$ ./examples/bin/daxpy

The RAJA/examples directory also contains many other RAJA example codes you can run and experiment with.

For an overview of all the main RAJA features, see RAJA Features. A full tutorial with a variety of examples showing how to use RAJA features can be found in RAJA Tutorial.