Error handling in C librariesΒΆ

Some C libraries can produce errors and use some sort of callback mechanism to report errors: an external error handling function needs to be set up which will be called by the C library if an error occurs.

The function sig_error() can be used to deal with these errors. This function may only be called within a sig_on() block (otherwise the Python interpreter will crash hard) after raising a Python exception. You need to use the Python/C API for this and call sig_error() after calling some variant of PyErr_SetObject(). Even within Cython, you cannot use the raise statement, because then the sig_error() will never be executed. The call to sig_error() will use the sig_on() machinery such that the exception will be seen by sig_on().

A typical error handler implemented in Cython would look as follows:

from cysignals.signals cimport sig_error
from cpython.exc cimport PyErr_SetString

cdef void error_handler(char *msg):
    PyErr_SetString(RuntimeError, msg)

Exceptions which are raised this way can be handled as usual by putting the sig_on() in a try/except block. For example, the package cypari2 provides a wrapper around the number theory library PARI/GP. The error handler has a callback which turns errors from PARI/GP into Python exceptions of type PariError. This can be handled as follows:

from cysignals.signals cimport sig_on, sig_off
def handle_pari_error():
        sig_on()  # This must be INSIDE the try
        # (call to PARI)
    except PariError:
        # (handle error)

SageMath uses this mechanism for libGAP, GLPK, NTL and PARI.