This section shows how to solve some common issues.

Crash without error message, Killed, or bad_alloc

Some protocols require several gigabytes of memory, and the virtual machine will crash if there is not enough RAM. You can reduce the memory usage for some malicious protocols with -B 5. Furthermore, every computation thread requires separate resources, so consider reducing the number of threads with for_range_multithreads() and similar. Lastly, you can use --disk-memory <path> to use disk space instead of RAM for large programs. Use Scripts/ <program-with-args> to get an estimate of the memory usage of a specific program.

List indices must be integers or slices

You cannot access Python lists with runtime variables because the lists only exists at compile time. Consider using Array.

Local variable referenced before assignment

This error can occur if you try to reassign a variable in a run-time loop like for_range(). Use update() instead of assignment. See for_range() for an example. You can also use iadd() instead of +=. takes too long or runs out of memory

If you use Python loops (for), they are unrolled at compile-time, resulting in potentially too much virtual machine code. Consider using for_range() or similar. You can also use -l when compiling, which will replace simple loops by an optimized version.

Cannot derive truth value from register

This message appears when you try to use branching on run-time data types, for example:

x = cint(0)
y = 0
if x == 0:
  y = 1
  print_ln('x is zero')

There a number of ways to solve this:

  1. Use the --flow-optimization argument during compilation.

  2. Use run-time branching:

    x = cint(0)
    y = cint(0)
    @if_(x == 0)
    def _():
      print_ln('x is zero')

    See if_e() for the equivalent to if/else.

  3. Use conditional statements:

    check = x == 0
    y = check.if_else(1, y)
    print_ln_if(check, 'x is zero')

If the condition is secret, for example, x is an sint and thus x == 0 is secret too, if_else() is the only option because branching would reveal the secret. For the same reason, print_ln_if() doesn’t work on secret values.

Use bit_and etc. for more elaborate conditions:

def _():

Incorrect results when using sfix

This is most likely caused by an overflow of the precision parameters because the default choice unlike accommodates numbers up to around 16,000. See sfix for an introduction and set_precision() for how to change the precision.

Variable results when using sfix

This is caused the usage of probabilistic rounding, which is used to restore the representation after a multiplication. See Catrina and Saxena for details. You can switch to deterministic rounding by calling sfix.round_nearest = True.

Order of memory instructions not preserved

By default, the compiler runs optimizations that in some corner case can introduce errors with memory accesses such as accessing an Array. The error message does not necessarily mean there will be errors, but the compiler cannot guarantee that there will not. If you encounter such errors, you can fix this either with -M when compiling or enable memory protection (protect_memory()) around specific memory accesses.

High number of rounds or slow WAN execution

You can increase the optimization budget using --budget during compilation. The budget controls the trade-off between compilation speed/memory usage and communication rounds during execution. The default is 1000, but 100,000 might give better results while still keeping compilation manageable.

Odd timings

Many protocols use preprocessing, which means they execute expensive computation to generates batches of information that can be used for computation until the information is used up. An effect of this is that computation can seem oddly slow or fast. For example, one multiplication has a similar cost then some thousand multiplications when using homomorphic encryption because one batch contains information for more than than 10,000 multiplications. Only when a second batch is necessary the cost shoots up. Other preprocessing methods allow for a variable batch size, which can be changed using -b. Smaller batch sizes generally reduce the communication cost while potentially increasing the number of communication rounds. Try adding -b 10 to the virtual machine (or script) arguments for very short computations.

Disparities in round figures

The number of virtual machine rounds given by the compiler are not an exact prediction of network rounds but the number of relevant protocol calls (such as multiplication, input, output etc) in the program. The actual number of network rounds is determined by the choice of protocol, which might use several rounds per protocol call. Furthermore, communication at the beginning and the end of a computation such as random key distribution and MAC checks further increase the number of network rounds.

Handshake failures

If you run on different hosts, the certificates (Player-Data/*.pem) must be the same on all of them. Furthermore, party <i> requires Player-Data/P<i>.key that must match Player-Data/P<i>.pem, that is, they have to be generated to together. The easiest way of setting this up is to run Scripts/ on one host and then copy all Player-Data/*.{pem,key} to all other hosts. This is not secure but it suffices for experiments. A secure setup would generate every key pair locally and then distributed only the public keys. Finally, run c_rehash Player-Data on all hosts. The certificates generated by Scripts/ expire after a month, so you need to regenerate them. The same holds for Scripts/ if you use the client facility.

Connection failures

MP-SPDZ requires one TCP port per party to be open to other parties. In the default setting, it’s 5000 on party 0, and 5001 on party 1 etc. You change change the base port (5000) using --portnumbase and individual ports for parties using --my-port. The scripts use a random base port number, which you can also change with --portnumbase.

Internally called tape has unknown offline data usage

Certain computations are not compatible with reading preprocessing from disk. You can compile the binaries with MY_CFLAGS += -DINSECURE in CONFIG.mine in order to execute the computation in a way that reuses preprocessing.

Illegal instruction

By default, the binaries are optimized for the machine they are compiled on. If you try to run them an another one, make sure set ARCH in CONFIG accordingly. Furthermore, if you run on an x86 processor without AVX (produced before 2011), you need to set AVX_OT = 0 to run dishonest-majority protocols.

Invalid instruction

The compiler code and the virtual machine binary have to be from the same version because most version slightly change the bytecode. This mean you can only use the precompiled binaries with the Python code in the same release.

Computation used more preprocessing than expected

This indicates an error in the internal accounting of preprocessing. Please file a bug report.

Required prime bit length is not the same as -F parameter during compilation

This is related to statistical masking that requires the prime to be a fair bit larger than the actual “payload” (40 by default). The technique goes to back to Catrina and de Hoogh. See also the paragraph on unknown prime moduli in Non-linear Computation.

Windows/VirtualBox performance

Performance when using Windows/VirtualBox is by default abysmal, as AVX/AVX2 instructions are deactivated (see e.g. here), which causes a dramatic performance loss. Deactivate Hyper-V/Hypervisor using:

bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype off
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature:Microsoft-Hyper-V

Performance can be further increased when compiling MP-SPDZ yourself:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install automake build-essential git libboost-dev libboost-thread-dev libntl-dev libsodium-dev libssl-dev libtool m4 python3 texinfo yasm
git clone
make tldr

See also this issue for a discussion.


This is a catch-all failure in protocols with malicious protocols that can be caused by something being wrong at any level. Please file a bug report with the specifics of your case.