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Last active Dec 23, 2020
What would you like to do?
Compiling a linked linear programming solver library

Linear Programming Solver running in the browser?

So I wanted to see if I could get a solver running in the browser.

Why you might ask? Well its pretty typical to need to deploy a back end for a webapp or even to have a specific install on your OS.

This makes things clunky if we wanted to say:

  1. Visualize solutions in realtime using some js libs on the client side
  2. Solve models on the client side of a web app

I dont wanna read this just show me the PoC

Getting started with WASM

Naturally I looked around to see what the options were and after reading a few posts I decided on emscripten.

So lets go through the tutorial...

(Note: examples taken from tutorial on the emscripten site, and the following blogs:


Step 1: Get yourself a emscripten...

// Install emscripten
git clone
cd emsdk
./emsdk install latest
./emsdk activate latest
source ./

Step 2: Make a new project

cd ..
mkdir wasm_test
cd wasm_test
cat << EOF > hello.c
#include <stdio.h>
int main(int argc, char ** argv) {
printf("Hello, world!\n");

Step 3: Compile the simple example

emcc hello.c -s WASM=1 -o hello.html

Now we straight away notice that there are a bunch of flags! We'll return to their importance later!

Selecting a solver

So, there are a number of commerical, and open source solvers. Luckily the community has given a nice list.

I had ambitions of trying CBC, but there is way to much linking to try as a first pass.

Then i came across, HiGH. But it was multithreaded and this seems to be experimental in WASM.

Last up lp_solve.

Now, how might we use something like a solver? There is typically a cmd interface. Inspired by this blog I figured we could probably use the same technique.

Compiling projects

So this is where things go abit off the rails, assuming you have make or cmake its maybe abit easier or better supported.

However, being new to both C/++ and WASM it was a challenge to figure out what I needed to add...

Unfortunately there was no make file but there was a ./ccc file that compile the project.

So lets do some detective work and figure out what needs to be changed?

cd lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve
vim ccc

Now we want to replace the compiler with the following:

opts="-03" // Note that this decides on the trade off between runtime and size, to be explore later

Now that we have updated the compiler script we can try to run a build.


This gives us the LLVM byte code objects.

cd ./bin
file lp_solve

Given we have this we want to convert it to js

mv lp_solve lp_solve.bc
emcc lp_solve.bc -o lp_solve.js
node lp_solve.js

Now that we finally have a js compiled interface to lp_solve, can we run it?

In short... No.

This is the point where dynamic linking comes into it.

There is a error that points you to the dlopen docs but, they are super sparse...

Luckily there are a number of other posts:


After reviewing these we kinda know what to look for...

Lets look for dlopen in the codez.

grep -R "dlopen"

From this we can see that we need the lp_solve and LAPACK.

Now this is where things got abit derailed... I looked for a package that had LAPACK compiling to WASM as this seemed like the hardest part.

Enter pyodide.

So, this looks to be a winner, we can just compile the project and then add the byte code object to our project.

Not so fast batman! Trying this will create more issues as I found out between versions of emscripten...

Enter the warning

Intrinsic has incorrect argument type!
void (i8*, i8, i32, i1)* @llvm.memset.p0i8.i32”

So, by changing the Make file and using our locally installed "latest" version of emscripten, we can get this to go away but we still need to add the internal lp_solve lib.

So where is this linked lib?

Upon further exploration its here:

cd /lp_solve_5.5/lpsolve55/
vim ./ccc
// edit the following
opts='-O3 -s SIDE_MODULE=1'

The build

Now this outputs the lib to the bin folder, we'll copy it to the location of the cmd line interface we compiled earlier.

So we should have the following now...

  1. blas_wa.bc
  2. lapack_wa.bc
  3. liblpsolve55.bc
  4. lp_solve.bc

So after some experimentation I couldnt get blas and lapack into the final js but this cmd seems to work...

emcc blas_WA.bc lapack_WA.bc -s SIDE_MODULE=1 -o target.wasm
emcc liblpsolve55.bc -s SIDE_MODULE=1 -o liblpsolve55.wasm
emcc -s MAIN_MODULE=1 lp_solve.bc -o lp_solve.js --preload-file liblpsolve55.wasm --emrun -s "EXTRA_EXPORTED_RUNTIME_METHODS=['FS']"

Here, you will notice a bunch of exta args etc.

Frontend and deployment

Once this worked we can customize the origional demo js so that we can run a node server and publish it via heroku.


var express = require('express');
var app = express();

// set the port of our application
// process.env.PORT lets the port be set by Heroku
var port = process.env.PORT || 8080;

// set the view engine to ejs
app.set('view engine', 'ejs');

// make express look in the public directory for assets (css/js/img)
app.use(express.static(__dirname + '/public'));

// set the home page route
app.get('/', function(req, res) {

    // ejs render automatically looks in the views folder

app.listen(port, function() {
    console.log('Our app is running on http://localhost:' + port);


<!doctype html>

<h1><a href="">lp_solve</a> running as WASM!</h1>

<h3 style="word-wrap: break-word;">Usage: handwrite a <a href="">MPS</a> forumulation, paste it from your clip board or load from your computer. (Example loaded by default)</h3>

<textarea id="tModel" value="Input or load model" rows="10"style="width : 100%;">Input or load model</textarea>
<form onsubmit="onSubmit(event, this)">
  <input type="file" name="inputFile">
  <button type="submit">Solve</button>
<textarea id="tSolution" rows="10" style="width : 100%;">Solution</textarea>

  var forumulation = `NAME          AFIRO
 E  R09
 E  R10
 L  X05
 L  X21
 E  R12
 E  R13
 L  X17
 L  X18
 L  X19
 L  X20
 E  R19
 E  R20
 L  X27
 L  X44
 E  R22
 E  R23
 L  X40
 L  X41
 L  X42
 L  X43
 L  X45
 L  X46
 L  X47
 L  X48
 L  X49
 L  X50
 L  X51
    X01       X48               .301   R09                -1.
    X01       R10              -1.06   X05                 1.
    X02       X21                -1.   R09                 1.
    X02       COST               -.4
    X03       X46                -1.   R09                 1.
    X04       X50                 1.   R10                 1.
    X06       X49               .301   R12                -1.
    X06       R13              -1.06   X17                 1.
    X07       X49               .313   R12                -1.
    X07       R13              -1.06   X18                 1.
    X08       X49               .313   R12                -1.
    X08       R13               -.96   X19                 1.
    X09       X49               .326   R12                -1.
    X09       R13               -.86   X20                 1.
    X10       X45              2.364   X17                -1.
    X11       X45              2.386   X18                -1.
    X12       X45              2.408   X19                -1.
    X13       X45              2.429   X20                -1.
    X14       X21                1.4   R12                 1.
    X14       COST              -.32
    X15       X47                -1.   R12                 1.
    X16       X51                 1.   R13                 1.
    X22       X46               .109   R19                -1.
    X22       R20               -.43   X27                 1.
    X23       X44                -1.   R19                 1.
    X23       COST               -.6
    X24       X48                -1.   R19                 1.
    X25       X45                -1.   R19                 1.
    X26       X50                 1.   R20                 1.
    X28       X47               .109   R22               -.43
    X28       R23                 1.   X40                 1.
    X29       X47               .108   R22               -.43
    X29       R23                 1.   X41                 1.
    X30       X47               .108   R22               -.39
    X30       R23                 1.   X42                 1.
    X31       X47               .107   R22               -.37
    X31       R23                 1.   X43                 1.
    X32       X45              2.191   X40                -1.
    X33       X45              2.219   X41                -1.
    X34       X45              2.249   X42                -1.
    X35       X45              2.279   X43                -1.
    X36       X44                1.4   R23                -1.
    X36       COST              -.48
    X37       X49                -1.   R23                 1.
    X38       X51                 1.   R22                 1.
    X39       R23                 1.   COST               10.
    B         X50               310.   X51               300.
    B         X05                80.   X17                80.
    B         X27               500.   R23                44.
    B         X40               500.
  document.getElementById("tModel").value = forumulation;
  // The generated Wasm wrapper will be added to Module once lp_solve.js loads
    var Module = {
    // Do not run anything before we set up the input files
    // Update stdout so that we can capture it and write to file
    noInitialRun: true,
    preRun: [ function() {
        function stdin() {
          if (i < res.length) {
            var code = input.charCodeAt(i);
            return code;
          } else {
            return null;

        var stdoutBuffer = "";
        function stdout(code) {
          if (code === "drop") {
            return stdoutBuffer;
          if (code === "\n".charCodeAt(0) && stdoutBuffer !== "") {
            //stdoutBuffer = "";
            stdoutBuffer += String.fromCharCode(code);
          } else {
            stdoutBuffer += String.fromCharCode(code);

        var stderrBuffer = "";
        function stderr(code) {
          if (code === "\n".charCodeAt(0) && stderrBuffer !== "") {
            stderrBuffer = "";
          } else {
            stderrBuffer += String.fromCharCode(code);
        FS.init(stdin, stdout, stderr);
  async function onSubmit (event, form) {
    // Get the input File from the form
    const input = form.inputFile.files[0]
    // Encode the input file

    function getIData (input) {
      var modelstr = document.getElementById('tModel').value;
      if (input == undefined) {
        return encodeStr(modelstr);
      } else {
        return encodeFile(input);

    const output = await getIData(input)

    // Create a link to download the output file
    const link = document.createElement('a')
    link.href = URL.createObjectURL(output)
    link.innerText =
   * @param {File} input MPS file
   * @returns {File} MPS file
  async function encodeFile (input) {
    // Module.FS only accepts files as TypedArrays, convert it
    const inputBuffer = await (new Response(input).arrayBuffer())

    Module.FS.writeFile(, new Uint8Array(inputBuffer))
    // Call the encoder with arguments (will read and write in-memory files)
    document.getElementById('tModel').value = Module.FS.readFile(, { encoding: 'utf8'});
    var extension ='.').pop();


    // Access what was captured from stdout
    // Turn the TypedArray into a File and return it
    const toutput = Module.stdout("drop");
    document.getElementById("tSolution").value = toutput;
    return new File([toutput], 'output.txt', {type: 'text/txt'})

   * @param {File} input string
   * @returns {File} MPS file
  async function encodeStr (input) {
    // Module.FS only accepts files as TypedArrays, convert it
    const encoder = new TextEncoder()
    const e_model = encoder.encode(input)
    Module.FS.writeFile('model.mps', new Uint8Array(e_model))
    // Call the encoder with arguments (will read and write in-memory files)

    Module.callMain(['-mps', 'model.mps']);

    // Access what was captured from stdout
    // Turn the TypedArray into a File and return it
    const toutput = Module.stdout("drop");
    document.getElementById("tSolution").value = toutput;
    return new File([toutput], 'output.txt', {type: 'text/txt'})

<script src="lp_solve.js"></script>

Create a "public" folder and move all the wasm objects there.

Now that we have this is just a standard heroku app and we can deploy following the regular steps.

In the future

Figure out whats going on with LAPACK...

I'd like to use this to create some visualization of the solve process using something like d3 etc.

Also, it would be nice to try get a "better/faster/different" solver to also be usable. CBC, or-tools, SCIP, miniZinc

Build some app that uses this to solve a real world problem. Event table seating here I come!

Comments, suggestions, corrections, contributions ...

I'm open to all the above you can reach me through my github contact details.


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@chrispahm chrispahm commented Apr 22, 2020

Just wanted to say that I love your idea of running a solver with WASM! I have tried jsLPSolver in the past but found it to be too unstable with larger mixed integer models. We currently host GAMS (using CPLEX) on a server, but for smaller models it would be nice to save the communication overhead and just solve the model on the clients machine...


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@apolinario apolinario commented Dec 17, 2020

Can you please share with us your exact configuration for the file lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve/ccc? I isn't super clear to me


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@apolinario apolinario commented Dec 17, 2020

Hello, running the Heroku app, if we press the solve button more than once, we get this error message in the terminal:
lp_solve.js:33918 Assertion failed: the runtime was exited (use NO_EXIT_RUNTIME to keep it alive after main() exits)

I tried to replicate your steps to try to add this -NO_EXIT_RUNTIME flag here
emcc -s MAIN_MODULE=1 -s NO_EXIT_RUNTIME=0 lp_solve.bc -o lp_solve.js --preload-file liblpsolve55.wasm --emrun -s "EXTRA_EXPORTED_RUNTIME_METHODS=['FS']"

However, I didn't manage to get there because I can't replicate all the steps you took, here is what I could replicate:
I manged to edit: /lp_solve_5.5/lpsolve55/ccc with the following code:

opts='-O3 -s SIDE_MODULE=1'

And it worked perfectly when ran with ./ccc, and it outputs two files: /lp_solve_5.5/lpsolve55/bin/liblpsolve55.a and /lp_solve_5.5/lpsolve55/bin/

Now here is where it gets tricky:
I'm not sure what setup to use on lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve/ccc. I tried (with c=emcc) both:
opts='-O3 -s MAIN_MODULE=1'
But the result is: file lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve/bin/lp_solve file is not a WebAssembly (wasm) binary module version 0x1 (MVP), but a lp_solve: ASCII text, with very long lines and therefore emcc gives the following error: wasm-ld: error: unknown file type: lp_solve

If I use opts='-O3 -s SIDE_MODULE=1' on lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve/ccc (but I feel something would be off if both are SIDE_MODULEs), then it actually generates the files lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve/bin/lp_solve as WebAssembly (wasm) binary module version 0x1 (MVP) file.
With that, I run:
mv liblpsolve55.a liblpsolve55.bc
emcc liblpsolve55.a -s SIDE_MODULE=1 -o liblpsolve55.wasm
And it works.

And I can also run the code exactly as the example is there:

emcc -s MAIN_MODULE=1 lp_solve.bc -o lp_solve.js --preload-file liblpsolve55.wasm --emrun -s "EXTRA_EXPORTED_RUNTIME_METHODS=['FS']"

And get all the lp_solve.js package (lp_solve.js, lp_solve.wasm,, liblpsolve55.wasm), , but it throws an exception when when it runs your index.ejs file: 'callMain' was not exported. add it to EXTRA_EXPORTED_RUNTIME_METHODS (see the FAQ)

So I go back to the compilation and change it to:

emcc -s MAIN_MODULE=1 lp_solve.bc -o lp_solve.js --preload-file liblpsolve55.wasm --emrun -s "EXTRA_EXPORTED_RUNTIME_METHODS=['FS','callMain']"

Now the whole code is executed without errors, but clicking the solve button doesn't actually do anything. The stdout comes back empty.
I also tried

emcc -s MAIN_MODULE=1 -s NO_EXIT_RUNTIME = 0 lp_solve.bc -o lp_solve.js --preload-file liblpsolve55.wasm --emrun -s "EXTRA_EXPORTED_RUNTIME_METHODS=['FS','callMain']"

But it also didn't work.

I suppose the issue was having compiled the lp_solve_5.5/lp_solve/ccc file with SIDE_MODULE=1 is what might be causing the issues, but I'm not sure which setup to replace it with that still yields a WebAssembly (wasm) binary module version 0x1 (MVP) valid lp_solve file.


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@fhk fhk commented Dec 23, 2020

For anyone in the future you can now create your own build using this repo -

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