In DPsim, an attribute is a special kind of variable which usually stores a scalar or matrix value used in the simulation. Examples for attributes are the voltage of a node, the reference current of a current source, or the left and right vectors of the MNA matrix system. In general, attributes are instances of the Attribute<T> class, but they are usually stored and accessed through a custom smart pointer of type const AttributeBase::Ptr (which expands to const AttributePointer<AttributeBase>).

Through the template parameter T of the Attribute<T> class, attributes can have different value types, most commonly Real, Complex, Matrix, or MatrixComp. Additionally, attributes can fall into one of two categories: Static attributes have a fixed value which can only be changed explicitly through the attribute’s set-method or through a mutable reference obtained through get. Dynamic attributes on the other hand can dynamically re-compute their value from other attributes every time they are read. This can for example be used to create a scalar attribute of type Real whose value always contains the magnitude of another, different attribute of type Complex.

Any simulation component or class which inherits from IdentifiedObject contains an instance of an AttributeList. This list can be used to store all the attributes present in this component and later access them via a String instead of having to use the member variable directly. For reasons of code clarity and runtime safety, the member variables should still be used whenever possible.

Creating and Storing Attributes

Normally, a new attribute is created by using the create or createDynamic method of an AttributeList object. These two methods will create a new attribute of the given type and insert it into the AttributeList under the given name. After the name, create can take an additional parameter of type T which will be used as the initial value for this attribute. Afterwards, a pointer to the attribute is returned which can then be stored in a component’s member variable. Usually this is done in the component’s constructor in an initialization list:

/// Component class Base::Ph1::PiLine

  // Definition of attributes
  const Attribute<Real>::Ptr mSeriesRes;
  const Attribute<Real>::Ptr mSeriesInd;
  const Attribute<Real>::Ptr mParallelCap;
  const Attribute<Real>::Ptr mParallelCond;

// Component constructor: Initializes the attributes in the initialization list
Base::Ph1::PiLine(CPS::AttributeList::Ptr attributeList) :
  mParallelCond(attributeList->create<Real>("G_parallel")) { };

When a class has no access to an AttributeList object (for example the Simulation class), attributes can instead be created through the make methods on AttributeStatic<T> and AttributeDynamic<T>:

// Simulation class
Simulation::Simulation(String name,	Logger::Level logLevel) :
	// ...

Working with Static Attributes

As stated above, the value of a static attribute can only be changed through the attribute’s set-method or by writing its value through a mutable reference obtained by calling get. This means that the value will not change between consecutive reads. Because of the performance benefits static attributes provide over dynamic attributes, attributes should be static whenever possible.

The value of a static attribute can be read by using the attribute’s get-function (i.e. attr->get) or by applying the * operator on the already dereferenced pointer (i.e. **attr), which is overloaded to also call the get function. Both methods return a mutable reference to the attribute’s value of type T&:

AttributeBase::Ptr attr = AttributeStatic<Real>::make(0.001);
Real read1 = attr->get(); //read1 = 0.001
Real read2 = **attr; //read2 = 0.001
Real& read3 = **attr; //read3 = 0.001

The value of an attribute can be changed by either writing to the mutable reference obtained from get, or by calling the set-method:

AttributeBase::Ptr attr = AttributeStatic<Real>::make(0.001);
Real read1 = **attr; //read1 = 0.001
**attr = 0.002;
Real read2 = **attr; //read2 = 0.002
Real read3 = **attr; //read3 = 0.003

Working with Dynamic Attributes

In general, dynamic attributes can be accessed via the same get and set-methods described above for static attributes. However, dynamic attributes can additionally have dependencies on other attributes which affect the behavior of these methods. Usually, this is used to dynamically compute the attribute’s value from the value of another attribute. In the simplest case, a dynamic attribute can be set to reference another (static or dynamic) attribute using the setReference-method. After this method has been called, the dynamic attribute’s value will always reflect the value of the attribute it references:

AttributeBase::Ptr attr1 = AttributeStatic<Real>::make(0.001);
AttributeBase::Ptr attr2 = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();


Real read1 = **attr2; //read1 = 0.001
**attr1 = 0.002;
Real read2 = **attr2; //read2 = 0.002

When working with references between multiple dynamic attributes, the direction in which the references are defined can be important: References should always be set in such a way that the reference relationships form a one-way chain. Only the last attribute in such a reference chain (which itself does not reference anything) should be modified by external code (i.e. through mutable references or the set-method). This ensures that changes are always reflected in all attributes in the chain. For example, the following setup might lead to errors because it overwrites an existing reference:

// Overwriting an existing reference relationship
AttributeBase::Ptr A = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();
AttributeBase::Ptr B = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();
AttributeBase::Ptr C = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();

B->setReference(A); // Current chain: B -> A
B->setReference(C); // Current chain: B -> C, reference on A is overwritten

**C = 0.1; // Change will not be reflected in A

Correct implementation:

AttributeBase::Ptr A = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();
AttributeBase::Ptr B = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();
AttributeBase::Ptr C = AttributeDynamic<Real>::make();

B->setReference(A); // Current chain: B -> A
C->setReference(B); // Current chain: C -> B -> A

**A = 0.1; // Updating the last attribute in the chain will update A, B, and C

Aside from setting references, it is also possible to completely recompute a dynamic attribute’s value every time it is read. This can for example be used to create attributes which reference a single matrix coefficient of another attribute, or which represent the magnitude or phase of a complex attribute. Dynamic attributes which depend on one other attribute in this way are also called derived attributes, and they can be created by calling one of the various derive... methods on the original attribute:

AttributeBase::Ptr attr1 = AttributeStatic<Complex>::make(Complex(3, 4));
AttributeBase::Ptr attr2 = attr1->deriveMag();

Real read1 = **attr2; //read1 = 5
**attr1 = Complex(1, 0);
Real read2 = **attr2; //read2 = 1

There is also a general derive-method which can take a custom getter and setter lambda function for computing the derived attribute from its dependency. For more complex cases involving dependencies on multiple attributes, the AttributeDynamic class has a method called addTask which can be used to add arbitrary computation tasks which are executed when the attribute is read or written to. For more information, check the method comments in Attribute.h.

Using Attributes for Logging and Interfacing

When setting up a simulation, there are some methods which require an instance of AttributeBase::Ptr as a parameter. Examples for this are the logger methods (e.g. DataLogger::logAttribute) and interface methods (e.g. InterfaceVillas::exportAttribute). To obtain the required attribute pointer, one can either directly access the public member variables of the component the attribute belongs to, or use the component’s attribute(String name) method which will look up the attribute in the component’s AttributeList:

auto r1 = DP::Ph1::Resistor::make("r_1");

auto logger = DataLogger::make("simName");
// Access the attribute through the member variable
logger->logAttribute("i12", r1->mIntfCurrent);

auto intf = std::make_shared<InterfaceVillas>(config);
// Access the attribute through the AttributeList
intf->exportAttribute(r1->attribute('i_intf'), 0, true, true);

// Access the attribute through the member variable and use deriveCoeff to convert it to a scalar value
intf->exportAttribute(r1->mIntfVoltage->deriveCoeff<Complex>(0, 0), 0, true);

When creating a simulation in Python, the component’s member variables are usually not accessible, so the attr-method has to be used for all accesses:

intf = dpsimpyvillas.InterfaceVillas(name='dpsim-mqtt', config=mqtt_config)
intf.import_attribute(evs.attr('V_ref'), 0, True)
intf.export_attribute(r12.attr('i_intf').derive_coeff(0, 0), 0)

Using Attributes to Schedule Tasks

Attributes are also used to determine dependencies of tasks on data, which is information required by the scheduler. For the usual MNAPreStep and MNAPostStep tasks, these dependencies are configured in the mnaAddPreStepDependencies and mnaAddPostStepDependencies methods:

void DP::Ph1::Inductor::mnaAddPostStepDependencies(
    AttributeBase::List &prevStepDependencies, AttributeBase::List &attributeDependencies,
    AttributeBase::List &modifiedAttributes, Attribute<Matrix>::Ptr &leftVector
  ) {

Here, the MNA post step depends on the solution vector of the system, leftVector, and modifies mIntfVoltage and mIntfCurrent. Therefore, this task needs to be scheduled after the system solution that computes leftVector and before tasks that require the voltage and current interface vectors of the inductance, e.g. the task logging these values.