MEDMEM library: Starter guide for users

This document illustrates how to start with the programming interface of the MEDMEM library. The users is someone who intends to create a data processing script involving meshes and fields.

General overview

Definition of the MEDMEM library

The MEDMEM library is designed to manipulate meshes and fields that conform to the MED data model. This library can be used in C++ programs as in python scripts for data processing on meshes and fields. The library contains the data structure to describe meshes and fields as C++ objects (MEDCoupling package). It provides a set of functions to manage the persistency toward the med file format (MEDLoader package), and to process the data through interpolation and localization algorithms (INTERP_KERNEL and REMAPPER packages), for example to perform field projections from a mesh to another.

Installation of the MEDMEM library

The MEDMEM library is part of the SALOME FIELDS module and then is installed together with this module by the installation process of SALOME. Nevertheless, it is possible for low-weight deployment to install only the MEDMEM library from the source files embedded in the SALOME FIELDS module. Keep in mind that the MEDMEM library is designed to be a self-consistent library with very few third party software (only med-file, glibc and mpi typically). In particular, it is strictly independent from the SALOME framework even if it distributed with SALOME for convenience reasons.

Components of the MEDMEM library

The MEDMEM library consists in a small set of atomic libraries files, in particular:

  • medcoupling: this library provides the data structures (C++ classes) to describe meshes and fields.
  • medloader: this library provides I/O functions to the MED file format
  • interpkernel: this library provides the mathematical structures and algorithms required med data processing, in particular interpolation and localization.
  • medcouplingremapper: this library provides the functions for fields projections and interpolation.

The figure below represents the layer structure of the packages of the library:


What we call MEDMEM library in this document is represented by the orange packages on this diagram. The white packages represent the old deprecated MEDMEM library. The blue packages represent the additional components for field manipulation through the user interface (TUI and GUI).

The MEDMEM library comes also with this set of atomic libraries for advanced users/programmers:

  • medcouplingcorba: this library is designed for cross process exchange of medcoupling objects.
  • medpartitioner: this library provides functions to split a MED domain in several part in the perspective of parallel computing

All these atomic C++ libraries are wrapped into a set of python modules (using the swig binding technology) so that all the data processing can be realized by scripting.


It could happen that some parts of the C++ libraries are not wrapped into python modules. This coverture will be extend on demand and if the integrity of the concepts is preserved.

Main concepts of the MEDMEM library


TODO avec Antony. Présenter les structure de données de MEDCoupling principalement. Describe the MEDMEM data model, the typical content of a med file, the types of cell that compose the meshes, the types of spatial discretization of fields, …

Basic usages of the MEDMEM library

This section illustrates the usage of main features of the MEDMEM library using python examples. The usage of python is just to have a light syntax that makes more easy the first understanding.


All code examples here after are parts of the tutorial use cases located in the folder src/MEDCalc/tut in the MED source directory. These use cases are all working executable programs and they can be used to initiate your own script.

Preparing the shell environment

We make the hypothesis here that the MEDMEM library is installed using the SALOME procedure and then is located in the FIELDS module installation directory. In addition to the MED library, the third party software required for executing the examples are: python, hdf5 and med-fichier. Then, you should prepare your shell environment with a set of instructions that looks like:

#------ python ------
export PYTHONHOME=</path/to/python>
export PYTHON_INCLUDE=${PYTHONHOME}/include/python2.6
export PATH=${PYTHONHOME}/bin:${PATH}

#------ hdf5 ------
export PATH=${HDF5HOME}/bin:$PATH

#------ med ------
export PATH=${MED2HOME}/bin:${PATH}

#------ medmem ---

Example 01: Explore a med file to get information concerning meshes and fields

objectives:This example illustrates how to get information concerning meshes and fields from a med file, using the MEDLoader library.

The loading of meshes and fields from a med file to a MEDCoupling data structure requires first the knowledge of metadata associated to these meshes and fields. You have to know the names of the meshes, so that you can specify the one you want to load, and then the names of the fields associated to one given mesh, the space discretizations used for each field, and the iterations available.

The MEDLoader library can read these metadata without loading the physical data that compose the meshes and fields. This feature ensures the performance of the exploration process, in particular in the case of big meshes.

This first instruction looks for meshes embedded in the med file (located by filepath) and returns the list of mesh names:

from MEDLoader import MEDLoader
meshNames = MEDLoader.GetMeshNames(filepath)

Then, you may select one of these names (or iterate on all names of the list) and read the list of fields defined on this mesh:

fieldNames = MEDLoader.GetAllFieldNamesOnMesh(filepath,meshName)

A field name could identify several MEDCoupling fields, that differ by their spatial discretization on the mesh (values on cells, values on nodes, …). This spatial discretization is specified by the TypeOfField that is an integer value in this list:

  • 0 = ON_CELLS (physical values defined by cell)
  • 1 = ON_NODES (physical values defined on nodes)
  • 2 = ON_GAUSS_PT (physical values defined on Gauss points)
  • 3 = ON_GAUSS_NE


This constant variables are defined by the MEDLoader module (from MEDLoader import ON_NODES).

As a consequence, before loading the physical values of a field, we have to determine the types of spatial discretization that come with this field name and to choose one of this types. The instruction below read all the spatial discretization types available for the field of name fieldName defined on the mesh of name meshName:

listOfTypes = MEDLoader.GetTypesOfField(filepath,meshName,fieldName)

Once you have selected the spatial discretization of interest (called typeOfDiscretization in the code below, that corresponds to an item of the list listOfTypes), you can extract the list of time iterations available for the identified field:

fieldIterations = MEDLoader.GetFieldIterations(typeOfDiscretization,

The iterations can be weither a list of time steps for which the field is defined (a timeseries) or a list of frequency steps (spectral analysis). In any case, an iteration item consists in a couple of integers, the first defining the main iteration step and the second an iteration order in this step, that can be consider as a sub-iteration of the step. In most of cases, the iteration order is set to -1 (no sub-iterations).

The field values can now be read for one particular time step (or spectrum tic), defined by the pair (iteration number, iteration order). This is illustrated by the example here after.

Example 02: Load a mesh and a field from a med file

objectives:This illustrates how to load the physical data of a specified mesh and a specified field.

The metadata read from a med file are required to identify the list of meshes and fields in the med file. We assume in this example that the mesh and field to load are identified, i.e. we know the name of the mesh to load (meshName) and the characteristic properties of the field to load (fieldName, typeOfDiscretization and iteration). For example, the instruction below load the mesh of name meshName:

mesh = MEDLoader.ReadUMeshFromFile(filepath, meshName, dimrestriction)

and the instruction below load the field with name fieldName defined on this mesh at a particular iteration step characterized by the couple (iterationNumber,iterationOrder):

field = MEDLoader.ReadField(typeOfDiscretization,
                            filepath, meshName, dimrestriction,
                            fieldName, iterationNumber, iterationOrder)

The variables mesh and field in this code example are instances of the MEDCoupling classes describing the meshes and fields.

Note that the read functions required the parameter dimrestriction. This parameter discriminates the mesh dimensions you are interested to relatively to the maximal dimension of cells contained in the mesh (then its value could be 0, -1, -2 or -3 depending on the max dimension of the mesh). A value of dimrestriction=0 means « no restriction ».

Example 03: Manage the MEDCoupling data load from a med file

objectives:Some suggestions for the MEDCoupling objects management, in a programming context.

In a real programming case, it could be relevant to explore first the med file to load all metadata concerning the whole set of meshes and associated fields, and then to load the physical data only once when required by the program.

Such a programming scenario required that you keep all metadata in data structures created in memory, so that you can manage the collection of meshes and fields. Nevertheless, the MEDMEM library does not provide such data structures.

We suggest to work with a simple list concept to store the metadata for each mesh entry and each field entry. Note that a mesh entry is characterized by the mesh name only, while a field entry is characterized by the following attributes:

  • fieldName: the name of the field
  • meshName: the name of the mesh that supports the field
  • typeOfDiscretization: the type of spatial discretization
  • iteration: a couple of integers (iter,order) that characterizes the step in a serie (timeseries or spectrum).

By default, we suggest to work with a simple map concept (dictionary in a python context, map in a C++ context) to register the meshes and fields loaded from the med file for each metadata entry.

Then, depending on the processing algorithm you intend to implement, you may dispatch the data in a tree structure that fit your specific case, for performance reasons. For example, the following code illustrates how to dispatch the metadata in a tree data structure where leaves are the physical data (field objects). We first have to define a tree structure (basic definition in this simple case, but it works fine):

import collections
def tree():
    return collections.defaultdict(tree)

fieldTree = tree()
meshDict = {}

Then, we can scan the med structure and dispatch the metadata in the tree structure:

from MEDLoader import MEDLoader
meshNames = MEDLoader.GetMeshNames(filepath)

meshDimRelToMax = 0 # 0 = no restriction

for meshName in meshNames:
    mesh = MEDLoader.ReadUMeshFromFile(filepath,meshName,meshDimRelToMax)
    meshDict[meshName] = mesh

    fieldNames = MEDLoader.GetAllFieldNamesOnMesh(filepath,meshName)
    for fieldName in fieldNames:
        listOfTypes = MEDLoader.GetTypesOfField(filepath,meshName,fieldName)
        for typeOfDiscretization in listOfTypes:
            fieldIterations = MEDLoader.GetFieldIterations(typeOfDiscretization,
            for fieldIteration in fieldIterations:
                itNumber = fieldIteration[0]
                itOrder  = fieldIteration[1]

                field = MEDLoader.ReadField(typeOfDiscretization,

                           [itNumber][itOrder] = field

Finally (and afterwards), we can display on standard output the metadata registered in the tree structure:

for meshName in fieldTree:
    for fieldName in fieldTree[meshName]:
        print("  %s"%fieldName)
        for fieldType in fieldTree[meshName][fieldName]:
            print("    %s"%fieldType)
            for itNumber in fieldTree[meshName][fieldName][fieldType]:
                for itOrder in fieldTree[meshName][fieldName][fieldType][itNumber]:
                    print("      (%s,%s)"%(itNumber,itOrder))

Example 04: Simple arithmetic operations with fields

objectives:This example illustrates how to load field iterations from a med file containing a field timeseries and shows how to use these iterations in simple arithmetic operations.

We consider a med file, containing one single mesh named Grid_80x80 that supports a field with values defined on nodes (typeOfDiscretization=ON_NODES) given for ten iterations.

This first code block identifies the mesh and the field to consider in this example:

medfilename = "" # med source filename
meshName = "Grid_80x80"        # name of the support mesh
dimrestriction = 0             # 0=no restriction
fieldName = "Pulse"            # name of the field series

The following instructions load the field, make a scaling on the physical values (multiply by 3) and then save the result in an output med file named

from MEDLoader import MEDLoader, ON_NODES

iteration, order = (3,-1)      # timestamps to consider
                          medfilename, meshName, dimrestriction,
                          fieldName, iteration, order)

outfilename = ""

Note the usage of the method applyFunc that takes in argument a string expression that defined the mathematical function to apply on the values of the fields. In this expression, the field is symbolized by the letter f.

The following set of instructions makes the addition of iteration number 3 with iteration number 4 of the field. Note that this operation required first to load the mesh:

# Load the support mesh
mesh = MEDLoader.ReadUMeshFromFile(medfilename, meshName, dimrestriction)

# Load the field at timestamps 3
iteration, order = (3,-1)
# Associate the mesh

# Load the field at timestamps 4 
iteration, order = (4,-1)
                       medfilename, meshName, dimrestriction,
                       fieldName, iteration, order)
# Associate the mesh

# Make the addition
result = p3+p4

# We can finally save the result together with the operands fields
outfilename = ""

Example 05: Compare fields load from different files

objectives:Illustrates the usage of the function changeUnderlyingMesh

Example 06: Create a field from scratch on a spatial domain

objectives:Illustrates the applyFunc method of fields

Example 07: Manipulate structured mesh

objectives:Illustrates the basic usage of the advanced interface of MEDLoader.

The MEDLoader frontal interface let you load unstructured meshes:

mesh = MEDLoader.ReadUMeshFromFile(filepath, meshName, dimrestriction)

That is to say that even if the mesh is a structured mesh (a grid mesh for example), then you will get a MEDCoupling unstructured mesh object.

To manipulate structured mesh objects, you have to use the MEDLoader backend interface named MEDFileMesh, or its derivative MEDFileUMesh for unstructured meshes, and MEDFileCMesh for structured meshes (CMesh for Cartesian Mesh). The code below illustrates how to load a mesh using the MEDFileMesh interface, and to know if it is a structured mesh:

from MEDLoader import MEDFileMesh
medfile = MEDFileMesh.New(filepath,meshName)
meshDimRelToMax = 0 # 0 = no restriction
mesh = medfile.getGenMeshAtLevel(meshDimRelToMax)
print("mesh is structured: %s"%mesh.isStructured())

This second example can be used in the case where you know in advance that it is a structured mesh:

from MEDLoader import MEDFileCMesh
medfile = MEDFileCMesh.New(filepath,meshName)
cmesh = medfile.getMesh()
# Note that the getMesh method is a short way to the method:
#cmesh = medfile.getGenMeshAtLevel(0,False)
print("cmesh is structured: %s"%cmesh.isStructured())

In any cases, you can also save the mesh in another file with the methode write of the MEDFileMesh object:


Example 08: Make a projection of a field

objectives:Make the projection of a field from a source mesh to a target mesh. The source mesh and the target mesh are two different mesh of the same geometry.

The input data of this use case are:

  • a source mesh, and a field defined on this source mesh (left side of the figure below)
  • a target mesh, on which we want to project the field (right side of the figure below)


The two meshes are displayed side by side on the figure for convenience reason, but in the real use case they stand at the same location in 3D space (they describe the same geometry).


The expected result is a field defined on the target mesh and which corresponds to a physical data equivalent to the source field, i.e. with conservation of some physical properties. This operation requires the usage of interpolation algorithms provided by the medcouplingremapper library:

from MEDLoader import MEDLoader, ON_CELLS
from MEDCouplingRemapper import MEDCouplingRemapper, IntensiveMaximum

# Read the source mesh and the source field
it,dt = (-1,-1)
msource = MEDLoader.ReadUMeshFromFile("","meshsource",0)
fsource = MEDLoader.ReadField(ON_CELLS,"","meshsource",0,

# Read the target mesh
mtarget = MEDLoader.ReadUMeshFromFile("","meshtarget",0)

# Remapper of type P0P0 (interpolation from cells to cells)
remap = MEDCouplingRemapper()

defaultValue = 1e100
ftarget = remap.transferField(fsource,defaultValue)

outfilename = ""

Some comments on this code:

  • The physical property to be preserved by this interpolation is specified using the keyword IntensiveMaximum
  • The parameter P0P0 given at the preparation step of the remapper specifies that the interpolation is done from CELLS (P0) to CELLS (P0).
  • The interpolation, strictly speaking, is performed by the instruction ftarget = remap.transferField(fsource,defaultValue)
  • In this instruction, the defaultValue is used to set the target value in the case where there is no cell in the source mesh that overlap the target mesh (for example when the source mesh correspond to a geometrical sub-part of the target mesh).

When executing the remapper, the result is a new field defined on the target mesh, as illustrated on the figure below:


Example 09: Make a partition of a mesh using a field

objective:This illustrates how to make a mesh partition using the value of a field defined on this mesh.

The input data is a MEDCoupling scalar field (field) defined on a 3D mesh, and we want to use this field as a criterium to make a partition of the mesh, for example by creating the mesh surface that delimits the volumes where the field value is greater that a limit L (and conversely the volumes where the field value is lower).


The code below shows the simplest way to extract the cells where field>L and to create the skin mesh:

arr = field.getArray()
ids = arr.findIdsInRange(L,1e300)
m3DSub = field.getMesh()[ids]
skin = m3DSub.computeSkin()

At the end, the variable skin is a 2D mesh that can be saved in a med file using the MEDLoader:


Advanced usages of the MEDMEM library

This section could explain how to process the physical data (dataArray) and to manipulate the advanced concepts of the MEDMEM library.