Getting the source code

You can start with the latest stable release . Or if you want the latest version, you can clone the git repository

git clone



Ceres Solver 2.2 requires a fully C++17-compliant compiler.

Ceres relies on a number of open source libraries, some of which are optional. For details on customizing the build process, see Customizing the build .

  • CMake 3.16 or later required.

  • Eigen 3.3 or later required.


    Ceres can also use Eigen as a sparse linear algebra library. Please see the documentation for EIGENSPARSE for more details.

  • glog 0.3.5 or later. Recommended

    glog is used extensively throughout Ceres for logging detailed information about memory allocations and time consumed in various parts of the solve, internal error conditions etc. The Ceres developers use it extensively to observe and analyze Ceres’s performance. glog allows you to control its behaviour from the command line. Starting with -logtostderr you can add -v=N for increasing values of N to get more and more verbose and detailed information about Ceres internals.

    Ceres also ships with a minimal replacement of glog called miniglog that can be enabled with the MINIGLOG build option. miniglog is supplied for platforms which do not support the full version of glog.

    In an attempt to reduce dependencies, it may be tempting to use miniglog on platforms which already support glog. While there is nothing preventing the user from doing so, we strongly recommend against it. miniglog has worse performance than glog and is much harder to control and use.

  • gflags. Needed to build examples and tests and usually a dependency for glog.

  • SuiteSparse 4.5.6 or later. Needed for solving large sparse linear systems. Optional; strongly recommended for large scale bundle adjustment


    If SuiteSparseQR is found, Ceres attempts to find the Intel Thread Building Blocks (TBB) library. If found, Ceres assumes SuiteSparseQR was compiled with TBB support and will link to the found TBB version. You can customize the searched TBB location with the TBB_ROOT variable.

    A CMake native version of SuiteSparse that can be compiled on a variety of platforms (e.g., using Visual Studio, Xcode, MinGW, etc.) is maintained by the CMake support for SuiteSparse project.

  • Apple’s Accelerate sparse solvers. As of Xcode 9.0, Apple’s Accelerate framework includes support for solving sparse linear systems across macOS, iOS et al. Optional

  • BLAS and LAPACK routines are needed by SuiteSparse, and optionally used by Ceres directly for some operations.

    For best performance on x86 based Linux systems we recommend using Intel MKL.

    Two other good options are ATLAS, which includes BLAS and LAPACK routines and OpenBLAS . However, one needs to be careful to turn off the threading inside OpenBLAS as it conflicts with use of threads in Ceres.

    MacOS ships with an optimized LAPACK and BLAS implementation as part of the Accelerate framework. The Ceres build system will automatically detect and use it.

    For Windows things are much more complicated. LAPACK For Windows has detailed instructions..

    Optional but required for SuiteSparse.

  • CUDA If you have an NVIDIA GPU then Ceres Solver can use it accelerate the solution of the Gauss-Newton linear systems using the CMake flag USE_CUDA. Currently this support is limited to using the dense linear solvers that ship with CUDA. As a result GPU acceleration can be used to speed up DENSE_QR, DENSE_NORMAL_CHOLESKY and DENSE_SCHUR. This also enables CUDA mixed precision solves for DENSE_NORMAL_CHOLESKY and DENSE_SCHUR. Optional.


We will use Ubuntu as our example linux distribution.


Ceres Solver always supports the previous and current Ubuntu LTS releases, currently 18.04 and 20.04, using the default Ubuntu repositories and compiler toolchain. Support for earlier versions is not guaranteed or maintained.

Start by installing all the dependencies.

# CMake
sudo apt-get install cmake
# google-glog + gflags
sudo apt-get install libgoogle-glog-dev libgflags-dev
sudo apt-get install libatlas-base-dev
# Eigen3
sudo apt-get install libeigen3-dev
# SuiteSparse (optional)
sudo apt-get install libsuitesparse-dev

We are now ready to build, test, and install Ceres.

tar zxf ceres-solver-2.2.0.tar.gz
mkdir ceres-bin
cd ceres-bin
cmake ../ceres-solver-2.2.0
make -j3
make test
# Optionally install Ceres, it can also be exported using CMake which
# allows Ceres to be used without requiring installation, see the documentation
# for the EXPORT_BUILD_DIR option for more information.
make install

You can also try running the command line bundling application with one of the included problems, which comes from the University of Washington’s BAL dataset [Agarwal].

bin/simple_bundle_adjuster ../ceres-solver-2.2.0/data/problem-16-22106-pre.txt

This runs Ceres for a maximum of 10 iterations using the DENSE_SCHUR linear solver. The output should look something like this.

iter      cost      cost_change  |gradient|   |step|    tr_ratio  tr_radius  ls_iter  iter_time  total_time
   0  4.185660e+06    0.00e+00    1.09e+08   0.00e+00   0.00e+00  1.00e+04        0    2.18e-02    6.57e-02
   1  1.062590e+05    4.08e+06    8.99e+06   0.00e+00   9.82e-01  3.00e+04        1    5.07e-02    1.16e-01
   2  4.992817e+04    5.63e+04    8.32e+06   3.19e+02   6.52e-01  3.09e+04        1    4.75e-02    1.64e-01
   3  1.899774e+04    3.09e+04    1.60e+06   1.24e+02   9.77e-01  9.26e+04        1    4.74e-02    2.11e-01
   4  1.808729e+04    9.10e+02    3.97e+05   6.39e+01   9.51e-01  2.78e+05        1    4.75e-02    2.59e-01
   5  1.803399e+04    5.33e+01    1.48e+04   1.23e+01   9.99e-01  8.33e+05        1    4.74e-02    3.06e-01
   6  1.803390e+04    9.02e-02    6.35e+01   8.00e-01   1.00e+00  2.50e+06        1    4.76e-02    3.54e-01

Solver Summary (v 2.2.0-eigen-(3.4.0)-lapack-suitesparse-(7.1.0)-metis-(5.1.0)-acceleratesparse-eigensparse)

                                     Original                  Reduced
Parameter blocks                        22122                    22122
Parameters                              66462                    66462
Residual blocks                         83718                    83718
Residuals                              167436                   167436

Minimizer                        TRUST_REGION

Dense linear algebra library            EIGEN
Trust region strategy     LEVENBERG_MARQUARDT
                                        Given                     Used
Linear solver                     DENSE_SCHUR              DENSE_SCHUR
Threads                                     1                        1
Linear solver ordering              AUTOMATIC                 22106,16
Schur structure                         2,3,9                    2,3,9

Initial                          4.185660e+06
Final                            1.803390e+04
Change                           4.167626e+06

Minimizer iterations                        7
Successful steps                            7
Unsuccessful steps                          0

Time (in seconds):
Preprocessor                         0.043895

  Residual only evaluation           0.029855 (7)
  Jacobian & residual evaluation     0.120581 (7)
  Linear solver                      0.153665 (7)
Minimizer                            0.339275

Postprocessor                        0.000540
Total                                0.383710

Termination:                      CONVERGENCE (Function tolerance reached. |cost_change|/cost: 1.769759e-09 <= 1.000000e-06)


On macOS, you can either use Homebrew (recommended) or MacPorts to install Ceres Solver.

If using Homebrew, then

brew install ceres-solver

will install the latest stable version along with all the required dependencies and

brew install ceres-solver --HEAD

will install the latest version in the git repo.

If using MacPorts, then

sudo port install ceres-solver

will install the latest version.

You can also install each of the dependencies by hand using Homebrew. There is no need to install BLAS or LAPACK separately as macOS ships with optimized BLAS and LAPACK routines as part of the vecLib framework.

# CMake
brew install cmake
# google-glog and gflags
brew install glog gflags
# Eigen3
brew install eigen
# SuiteSparse
brew install suite-sparse

We are now ready to build, test, and install Ceres.

tar zxf ceres-solver-2.2.0.tar.gz
mkdir ceres-bin
cd ceres-bin
cmake ../ceres-solver-2.2.0
make -j3
make test
# Optionally install Ceres, it can also be exported using CMake which
# allows Ceres to be used without requiring installation, see the
# documentation for the EXPORT_BUILD_DIR option for more information.
make install


Using a Library Manager

vcpkg is a library manager for Microsoft Windows that can be used to install Ceres Solver and all its dependencies.

  1. Install the library manager into a top-level directory vcpkg/ on Windows following the guide, e.g., using Visual Studio 2022 community edition, or simply run

    git clone
    cd vcpkg
    .\vcpkg integrate install
  2. Use vcpkg to install and build Ceres and all its dependencies, e.g., for 64 bit Windows

    vcpkg\vcpkg.exe install ceres:x64-windows

    Or with optional components, e.g., SuiteSparse, using

    vcpkg\vcpkg.exe install ceres[suitesparse]:x64-windows
  3. Integrate vcpkg packages with Visual Studio to allow it to automatically find all the libraries installed by vcpkg.

    vcpkg\vcpkg.exe integrate install
  4. To use Ceres in a CMake project, follow our instructions.

Building from Source

Ceres Solver can also be built from source. For this purpose, we support Visual Studio 2019 and newer.


If you find the following CMake difficult to set up, then you may be interested in a Microsoft Visual Studio wrapper for Ceres Solver by Tal Ben-Nun.

  1. Create a top-level directory for dependencies, build, and sources somewhere, e.g., ceres/

  2. Get dependencies; unpack them as subdirectories in ceres/ (ceres/eigen, ceres/glog, etc.)

    1. Eigen 3.3 . Configure and optionally install Eigen. It should be exported into the CMake package registry by default as part of the configure stage so installation should not be necessary.

    2. google-glog Open up the Visual Studio solution and build it.

    3. gflags Open up the Visual Studio solution and build it.

    4. (Experimental) SuiteSparse Previously SuiteSparse was not available on Windows, recently it has become possible to build it on Windows using the suitesparse-metis-for-windows project. If you wish to use SuiteSparse, follow their instructions for obtaining and building it.

      Alternatively, Ceres Solver supports SuiteSparse binary packages available for Visual Studio 2019 and 2022 provided by the CMake support for SuiteSparse project that also include reference LAPACK (and BLAS). The binary packages are used by Ceres Solver for continuous testing on Github.

  3. Unpack the Ceres tarball into ceres. For the tarball, you should get a directory inside ceres similar to ceres-solver-2.2.0. Alternately, checkout Ceres via git to get ceres-solver.git inside ceres.

  4. Install CMake,

  5. Create a directory ceres/ceres-bin (for an out-of-tree build)

    1. If you use the above binary SuiteSparse package, make sure CMake can find it, e.g., by assigning the path of the directory that contains the unzipped contents to the CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH environment variable. In a Windows command prompt this can be achieved as follows:

      export CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=C:/Downloads/SuiteSparse-5.11.0-cmake.1-vc16-Win64-Release-shared-gpl
  6. Run CMake; select the ceres-solver-X.Y.Z or ceres-solver.git directory for the CMake file. Then select the ceres-bin for the build directory.

  7. Try running Configure which can fail at first because some dependencies cannot be automatically located. In this case, you must set the following CMake variables to the appropriate directories where you unpacked/built them:

    1. Eigen3_DIR (Set to directory containing Eigen3Config.cmake)



    4. (Optional) gflags_DIR (Set to directory containing gflags-config.cmake)

    5. (SuiteSparse binary package) BLAS_blas_LIBRARY and LAPACK_lapack_LIBRARY CMake variables must be explicitly set to <path>/lib/blas.lib and <path>/lib/lapack.lib, respectively, both located in the unzipped package directory <path>.

    If any of the variables are not visible in the CMake GUI, create a new entry for them. We recommend using the <NAME>_(INCLUDE/LIBRARY)_DIR_HINTS variables rather than setting the <NAME>_INCLUDE_DIR & <NAME>_LIBRARY variables directly to keep all of the validity checking, and to avoid having to specify the library files manually.

  8. You may have to tweak some more settings to generate a MSVC project. After each adjustment, try pressing Configure & Generate until it generates successfully.

  9. Open the solution and build it in MSVC

To run the tests, select the RUN_TESTS target and hit Build RUN_TESTS from the build menu.

Like the Linux build, you should now be able to run bin/simple_bundle_adjuster.


  1. The default build is Debug; consider switching it to Release for optimal performance.

  2. CMake puts the resulting test binaries in ceres-bin/examples/Debug by default.

  3. Without a sparse linear algebra library, only a subset of solvers is usable, namely: DENSE_QR, DENSE_SCHUR, CGNR, and ITERATIVE_SCHUR.



You will need Android NDK r15 or higher to build Ceres solver.

To build Ceres for Android, we need to force CMake to find the toolchains from the Android NDK instead of using the standard ones. For example, assuming you have specified $NDK_DIR:

cmake \
    $NDK_DIR/build/cmake/android.toolchain.cmake \
-DEigen3_DIR=/path/to/Eigen3Config.cmake \
-DANDROID_ABI=arm64-v8a \
-DANDROID_STL=c++_shared \

You can build for any Android STL or ABI, but the c++_shared STL and the armeabi-v7a or arm64-v8a ABI are recommended for 32bit and 64bit architectures, respectively. Several API levels may be supported, but it is recommended that you use the highest level that is suitable for your Android project.


You must always use the same API level and STL library for your Android project and the Ceres binaries.

After building, you get a library, which you can link in your Android build system by using a PREBUILT_SHARED_LIBRARY target in your build script.

If you are building any Ceres samples and would like to verify your library, you will need to place them in an executable public directory together with on your Android device (e.g. in /data/local/tmp) and ensure that the STL library from your NDK is present in that same directory. You may then execute the sample by running for example:

adb shell
cd /data/local/tmp
LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/data/local/tmp ./helloworld

Note that any solvers or other shared dependencies you include in your project must also be present in your android build config and your test directory on Android.



You need iOS version 7.0 or higher to build Ceres Solver.

To build Ceres for iOS, we need to force CMake to find the toolchains from the iOS SDK instead of using the standard ones. For example:

cmake \
-DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=../ceres-solver/cmake/iOS.cmake \
-DEigen3_DIR=/path/to/Eigen3Config.cmake \

PLATFORM can be: OS, SIMULATOR or SIMULATOR64. You can build for OS (armv7, armv7s, arm64), SIMULATOR (i386) or SIMULATOR64 (x86_64) separately and use lipo to merge them into one static library. See cmake/iOS.cmake for more options.


iOS version 11.0+ requires a 64-bit architecture, so you cannot build for armv7/armv7s with iOS 11.0+ (only arm64 is supported).

After building, you will get a libceres.a library, which you will need to add to your Xcode project.

The default CMake configuration builds a bare bones version of Ceres Solver that only depends on Eigen (MINIGLOG is compiled into Ceres if it is used), this should be sufficient for solving small to moderate sized problems.

If you decide to use LAPACK and BLAS, then you also need to add Accelerate.framework to your Xcode project’s linking dependency.

Customizing the build

It is possible to reduce the libraries needed to build Ceres and customize the build process by setting the appropriate options in CMake. These options can either be set in the CMake GUI, or via -D<OPTION>=<ON/OFF> when running CMake from the command line. In general, you should only modify these options from their defaults if you know what you are doing.


If you are setting variables via -D<VARIABLE>=<VALUE> when calling CMake, it is important to understand that this forcibly overwrites the variable <VARIABLE> in the CMake cache at the start of every configure.

This can lead to confusion if you are invoking the CMake curses terminal GUI (via ccmake, e.g. `ccmake -D<VARIABLE>=<VALUE> <PATH_TO_SRC>). In this case, even if you change the value of <VARIABLE> in the CMake GUI, your changes will be overwritten with the value passed via -D<VARIABLE>=<VALUE> (if one exists) at the start of each configure.

As such, it is generally easier not to pass values to CMake via -D and instead interactively experiment with their values in the CMake GUI. If they are not present in the Standard View, toggle to the Advanced View with <t>.

Modifying default compilation flags

The CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS variable can be used to define additional default compilation flags for all build types. Any flags specified in CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS will be used in addition to the default flags used by Ceres for the current build type.

For example, if you wished to build Ceres with -march=native which is not enabled by default (even if CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release) you would invoke CMake with:

cmake -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS="-march=native" <PATH_TO_CERES_SOURCE>


The use of -march=native will limit portability, as it will tune the implementation to the specific CPU of the compiling machine (e.g. use of AVX if available). Run-time segfaults may occur if you then tried to run the resulting binaries on a machine with a different processor, even if it is from the same family (e.g. x86) if the specific options available are different. Note that the performance gains from the use of -march=native are not guaranteed to be significant.

Options controlling Ceres configuration

  1. LAPACK [Default: ON]: If this option is enabled, and the BLAS and LAPACK libraries are found, Ceres will enable direct use of LAPACK routines (i.e. Ceres itself will call them). If this option is disabled, then Ceres will not require LAPACK or BLAS. It is however still possible that Ceres may call LAPACK routines indirectly via SuiteSparse if LAPACK=OFF and SUITESPARSE=ON. Finally note that if LAPACK=ON and SUITESPARSE=ON, the LAPACK and BLAS libraries used by SuiteSparse and Ceres should be the same.

  2. SUITESPARSE [Default: ON]: By default, Ceres will link to SuiteSparse if it and all of its dependencies are present. Turn this OFF to build Ceres without SuiteSparse.


    SuiteSparse is licensed under a mixture of GPL/LGPL/Commercial terms. Ceres requires some components that are only licensed under GPL/Commercial terms.

  3. ACCELERATESPARSE [Default: ON]: By default, Ceres will link to Apple’s Accelerate framework directly if a version of it is detected which supports solving sparse linear systems. Note that on Apple OSs Accelerate usually also provides the BLAS/LAPACK implementations and so would be linked against irrespective of the value of ACCELERATESPARSE.

  4. EIGENSPARSE [Default: ON]: By default, Ceres will use Eigen’s sparse Cholesky factorization.

  5. GFLAGS [Default: ON]: Turn this OFF to build Ceres without gflags. This will also prevent some of the example code from building.

  6. MINIGLOG [Default: OFF]: Ceres includes a stripped-down, minimal implementation of glog which can optionally be used as a substitute for glog, thus removing glog as a required dependency. Turn this ON to use this minimal glog implementation.

  7. SCHUR_SPECIALIZATIONS [Default: ON]: If you are concerned about binary size/compilation time over some small (10-20%) performance gains in the SPARSE_SCHUR solver, you can disable some of the template specializations by turning this OFF.

  8. BUILD_SHARED_LIBS [Default: OFF]: By default Ceres is built as a static library, turn this ON to instead build Ceres as a shared library.

  9. EXPORT_BUILD_DIR [Default: OFF]: By default Ceres is configured solely for installation, and so must be installed in order for clients to use it. Turn this ON to export Ceres’ build directory location into the user’s local CMake package registry where it will be detected without requiring installation in a client project using CMake when find_package(Ceres) is invoked.

  10. BUILD_DOCUMENTATION [Default: OFF]: Use this to enable building the documentation, requires Sphinx and the sphinx-rtd-theme package available from the Python package index. In addition, make ceres_docs can be used to build only the documentation.

  11. MSVC_USE_STATIC_CRT [Default: OFF] Windows Only: By default Ceres will use the Visual Studio default, shared C-Run Time (CRT) library. Turn this ON to use the static C-Run Time library instead.

  12. LIB_SUFFIX [Default: "64" on non-Debian/Arch based 64-bit Linux, otherwise: ""]: The suffix to append to the library install directory, built from: ${CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX}/lib${LIB_SUFFIX}.

    The filesystem hierarchy standard recommends that 64-bit systems install native libraries to lib64 rather than lib. Most Linux distributions follow this convention, but Debian and Arch based distros do not. Note that the only generally sensible values for LIB_SUFFIX are “” and “64”.

    Although by default Ceres will auto-detect non-Debian/Arch based 64-bit Linux distributions and default LIB_SUFFIX to “64”, this can always be overridden by manually specifying LIB_SUFFIX using: -DLIB_SUFFIX=<VALUE> when invoking CMake.

Options controlling Ceres dependency locations

Ceres uses the CMake find_package function to find all of its dependencies. Dependencies that reliably provide config files on all supported platforms are expected to be found in “Config” mode of find_package (Eigen, gflags). This means you can use the standard CMake facilities to customize where these dependencies are found, such as CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH, the <DEPENDENCY_NAME>_DIR variables, or since CMake 3.12 the <DEPENDENCY_NAME>_ROOT variables.

Other dependencies are found using Find<DEPENDENCY_NAME>.cmake scripts which are either included in Ceres (for most dependencies) or are shipped as standard with CMake (for LAPACK & BLAS). These scripts will search all of the “standard” install locations for various OSs for each dependency. However, particularly for Windows, they may fail to find the library, in this case you will have to manually specify its installed location. The Find<DEPENDENCY_NAME>.cmake scripts shipped with Ceres support two ways for you to do this:

  1. Set the hints variables specifying the directories to search in preference, but in addition, to the search directories in the Find<DEPENDENCY_NAME>.cmake script:



    These variables should be set via -D<VAR>=<VALUE> CMake arguments as they are not visible in the GUI.

  2. Set the variables specifying the explicit include directory and library file to use:



    This bypasses all searching in the Find<DEPENDENCY_NAME>.cmake script, but validation is still performed.

    These variables are available to set in the CMake GUI. They are visible in the Standard View if the library has not been found (but the current Ceres configuration requires it), but are always visible in the Advanced View. They can also be set directly via -D<VAR>=<VALUE> arguments to CMake.

Building using custom BLAS & LAPACK installs

If the standard find package scripts for BLAS & LAPACK which ship with CMake fail to find the desired libraries on your system, try setting CMAKE_LIBRARY_PATH to the path(s) to the directories containing the BLAS & LAPACK libraries when invoking CMake to build Ceres via -D<VAR>=<VALUE>. This should result in the libraries being found for any common variant of each.

Alternatively, you may also directly specify the BLAS_LIBRARIES and LAPACK_LIBRARIES variables via -D<VAR>=<VALUE> when invoking CMake to configure Ceres.

Using Ceres with CMake

In order to use Ceres in client code with CMake using find_package() then either:

  1. Ceres must have been installed with make install. If the

    install location is non-standard (i.e. is not in CMake’s default search paths) then it will not be detected by default, see: Local installations.

    Note that if you are using a non-standard install location you should consider exporting Ceres instead, as this will not require any extra information to be provided in client code for Ceres to be detected.

  2. Or Ceres’ build directory must have been exported by enabling the

    EXPORT_BUILD_DIR option when Ceres was configured.

As an example of how to use Ceres, to compile examples/ in a separate standalone project, the following CMakeList.txt can be used:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.5)


find_package(Ceres REQUIRED)

# helloworld
target_link_libraries(helloworld Ceres::ceres)

Irrespective of whether Ceres was installed or exported, if multiple versions are detected, set: Ceres_DIR to control which is used. If Ceres was installed Ceres_DIR should be the path to the directory containing the installed CeresConfig.cmake file (e.g. /usr/local/lib/cmake/Ceres). If Ceres was exported, then Ceres_DIR should be the path to the exported Ceres build directory.


You do not need to call include_directories(${CERES_INCLUDE_DIRS}) as the exported Ceres CMake target already contains the definitions of its public include directories which will be automatically included by CMake when compiling a target that links against Ceres. In fact, since v2.0 CERES_INCLUDE_DIRS is not even set.

Specify Ceres components

You can specify particular Ceres components that you require (in order for Ceres to be reported as found) when invoking find_package(Ceres). This allows you to specify, for example, that you require a version of Ceres built with SuiteSparse support. By definition, if you do not specify any components when calling find_package(Ceres) (the default) any version of Ceres detected will be reported as found, irrespective of which components it was built with.

The Ceres components which can be specified are:

  1. LAPACK: Ceres built using LAPACK (LAPACK=ON).

  2. SuiteSparse: Ceres built with SuiteSparse (SUITESPARSE=ON).

  3. AccelerateSparse: Ceres built with Apple’s Accelerate sparse solvers (ACCELERATESPARSE=ON).

  4. EigenSparse: Ceres built with Eigen’s sparse Cholesky factorization (EIGENSPARSE=ON).

  5. SparseLinearAlgebraLibrary: Ceres built with at least one sparse linear algebra library. This is equivalent to SuiteSparse OR AccelerateSparse OR EigenSparse.

  6. SchurSpecializations: Ceres built with Schur specializations (SCHUR_SPECIALIZATIONS=ON).

To specify one/multiple Ceres components use the COMPONENTS argument to find_package() like so:

# Find a version of Ceres compiled with SuiteSparse & EigenSparse support.
# NOTE: This will report Ceres as **not** found if the detected version of
#            Ceres was not compiled with both SuiteSparse & EigenSparse.
#            Remember, if you have multiple versions of Ceres installed, you
#            can use Ceres_DIR to specify which should be used.
find_package(Ceres REQUIRED COMPONENTS SuiteSparse EigenSparse)

Specify Ceres version

Additionally, when CMake has found Ceres it can optionally check the package version, if it has been specified in the find_package() call. For example:

find_package(Ceres 1.2.3 REQUIRED)

Local installations

If Ceres was installed in a non-standard path by specifying -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX="/some/where/local", then the user should add the PATHS option to the find_package() command, e.g.,

find_package(Ceres REQUIRED PATHS "/some/where/local/")

Note that this can be used to have multiple versions of Ceres installed. However, particularly if you have only a single version of Ceres which you want to use but do not wish to install to a system location, you should consider exporting Ceres using the EXPORT_BUILD_DIR option instead of a local install, as exported versions of Ceres will be automatically detected by CMake, irrespective of their location.

Understanding the CMake Package System

Although a full tutorial on CMake is outside the scope of this guide, here we cover some of the most common CMake misunderstandings that crop up when using Ceres. For more detailed CMake usage, the following references are very useful:

  • The official CMake tutorial

    Provides a tour of the core features of CMake.

  • ProjectConfig tutorial and the cmake-packages documentation

    Cover how to write a ProjectConfig.cmake file, discussed below, for your own project when installing or exporting it using CMake. It also covers how these processes in conjunction with find_package() are actually handled by CMake. The ProjectConfig tutorial is the older style, currently used by Ceres for compatibility with older versions of CMake.


    Targets in CMake.

    All libraries and executables built using CMake are represented as targets created using add_library() and add_executable(). Targets encapsulate the rules and dependencies (which can be other targets) required to build or link against an object. This allows CMake to implicitly manage dependency chains. Thus it is sufficient to tell CMake that a library target: B depends on a previously declared library target A, and CMake will understand that this means that B also depends on all of the public dependencies of A.

When a project like Ceres is installed using CMake, or its build directory is exported into the local CMake package registry (see Installing a project with CMake vs Exporting its build directory), in addition to the public headers and compiled libraries, a set of CMake-specific project configuration files are also installed to: <INSTALL_ROOT>/lib/cmake/Ceres (if Ceres is installed), or created in the build directory (if Ceres’ build directory is exported). When find_package is invoked, CMake checks various standard install locations (including /usr/local on Linux & UNIX systems), and the local CMake package registry for CMake configuration files for the project to be found (i.e. Ceres in the case of find_package(Ceres)). Specifically it looks for:

  • <PROJECT_NAME>Config.cmake (or <lower_case_project_name>-config.cmake)

    Which is written by the developers of the project, and is configured with the selected options and installed locations when the project is built and imports the project targets and/or defines the legacy CMake variables: <PROJECT_NAME>_INCLUDE_DIRS & <PROJECT_NAME>_LIBRARIES which are used by the caller.

The <PROJECT_NAME>Config.cmake typically includes a second file installed to the same location:

  • <PROJECT_NAME>Targets.cmake

    Which is autogenerated by CMake as part of the install process and defines imported targets for the project in the caller’s CMake scope.

An imported target contains the same information about a library as a CMake target that was declared locally in the current CMake project using add_library(). However, imported targets refer to objects that have already been built by a different CMake project. Principally, an imported target contains the location of the compiled object and all of its public dependencies required to link against it as well as all required include directories. Any locally declared target can depend on an imported target, and CMake will manage the dependency chain, just as if the imported target had been declared locally by the current project.

Crucially, just like any locally declared CMake target, an imported target is identified by its name when adding it as a dependency to another target.

Since v2.0, Ceres has used the target namespace feature of CMake to prefix its export targets: Ceres::ceres. However, historically the Ceres target did not have a namespace, and was just called ceres.

Whilst an alias target called ceres is still provided in v2.0 for backwards compatibility, it creates a potential drawback, if you failed to call find_package(Ceres), and Ceres is installed in a default search path for your compiler, then instead of matching the imported Ceres target, it will instead match the installed library. If this happens you will get either compiler errors for missing include directories or linker errors due to missing references to Ceres public dependencies.

Note that this description applies both to projects that are installed using CMake, and to those whose build directory is exported using export() (instead of install()). Ceres supports both installation and export of its build directory if the EXPORT_BUILD_DIR option is enabled, see Customizing the build.

Installing a project with CMake vs Exporting its build directory

When a project is installed, the compiled libraries and headers are copied from the source & build directory to the install location, and it is these copied files that are used by any client code. When a project’s build directory is exported, instead of copying the compiled libraries and headers, CMake creates an entry for the project in the user’s local CMake package registry, <USER_HOME>/.cmake/packages on Linux & macOS, which contains the path to the project’s build directory which will be checked by CMake during a call to find_package(). The effect of which is that any client code uses the compiled libraries and headers in the build directory directly, thus not requiring the project to be installed to be used.

Installing / Exporting a project that uses Ceres

As described in Understanding the CMake Package System, the contents of the CERES_LIBRARIES variable is the name of an imported target which represents Ceres. If you are installing / exporting your own project which uses Ceres, it is important to understand that:

Imported targets are not (re)exported when a project which imported them is exported.

Thus, when a project Foo which uses Ceres is exported, its list of dependencies as seen by another project Bar which imports Foo via: find_package(Foo REQUIRED) will contain: ceres. However, the definition of ceres as an imported target is not (re)exported when Foo is exported. Hence, without any additional steps, when processing Bar, ceres will not be defined as an imported target. Thus, when processing Bar, CMake will assume that ceres refers only to: libceres.a/so/dylib/lib (the compiled Ceres library) directly if it is on the current list of search paths. In which case, no CMake errors will occur, but Bar will not link properly, as it does not have the required public link dependencies of Ceres, which are stored in the imported target definition.

The solution to this is for Foo (i.e., the project that uses Ceres) to invoke find_package(Ceres) in FooConfig.cmake, thus ceres will be defined as an imported target when CMake processes Bar. An example of the required modifications to FooConfig.cmake are show below:

# Importing Ceres in FooConfig.cmake using CMake 3.x style.
# In CMake v3.x, the find_dependency() macro exists to forward the REQUIRED
# / QUIET parameters to find_package() when searching for dependencies.
# Note that find_dependency() does not take a path hint, so if Ceres was
# installed in a non-standard location, that location must be added to
# CMake's search list before this call.


The following includes some hints for migrating from previous versions.

Version 2.0

  • When using Ceres with CMake, the target name in v2.0 is Ceres::ceres following modern naming convetions. The legacy target ceres exists for backwards compatibility, but is deprecated. CERES_INCLUDE_DIRS is not set any more, as the exported Ceres CMake target already contains the definitions of its public include directories which will be automatically included by CMake when compiling a target that links against Ceres.

  • When building Ceres, some dependencies (Eigen, gflags) are not found using custom Find<DEPENDENCY_NAME>.cmake modules any more. Hence, instead of the custom variables (<DEPENDENCY_NAME (CAPS)>_INCLUDE_DIR_HINTS, <DEPENDENCY_NAME (CAPS)>_INCLUDE_DIR, …) you should use standard CMake facilities to customize where these dependencies are found, such as CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH, the <DEPENDENCY_NAME>_DIR variables, or since CMake 3.12 the <DEPENDENCY_NAME>_ROOT variables.

  • While TBB is not used any more directly by Ceres, it might still try to link against it, if SuiteSparseQR was found. The variable (environment or CMake) to customize this is TBB_ROOT (used to be TBBROOT). For example, use cmake -DTBB_ROOT=/opt/intel/tbb ... if you want to link against TBB installed from Intel’s binary packages on Linux.