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These pages document the RooStats / RooFit - based software tool used for statistical analysis within the CMS experiment - Combine. Note that while this tool was originally developed in the Higgs PAG, its usage is now widespread within CMS.

Combine provides a command-line interface to many different statistical techniques, available inside RooFit/RooStats, that are used widely inside CMS.

The package exists on GitHub under

For more information about Git, GitHub and its usage in CMS, see

The code can be checked out from GitHub and compiled on top of a CMSSW release that includes a recent RooFit/RooStats, or via standalone compilation without CMSSW dependencies. See the instructions for installation of Combine below.

Installation instructions

Installation instructions and recommended versions can be found below. Since v9.0.0, the versioning follows the semantic versioning 2.0.0 standard. Earlier versions are not guaranteed to follow the standard.

The instructions below are for installation within a CMSSW environment. For end users that do not need to commit or do any development, the following recipes should be sufficient. To choose a release version, you can find the latest releases on github under

The nominal installation method is inside CMSSW. The current release targets the CMSSW 11_3_X series because this release has both python2 and python3 ROOT bindings, allowing a more gradual migration of user code to python3. Combine is fully python3-compatible and, with some adaptations, can also work in 12_X releases.

CMSSW 11_3_X runs on slc7, which can be setup using apptainer (see detailed instructions):

cmsrel CMSSW_11_3_4
cd CMSSW_11_3_4/src
git clone HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
cd HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit

Update to a recommended tag - currently the recommended tag is v9.1.0: see release notes

cd $CMSSW_BASE/src/HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
git fetch origin
git checkout v9.1.0
scramv1 b clean; scramv1 b # always make a clean build

Combine v8: CMSSW_10_2_X release series

Setting up the environment (once):

cmsrel CMSSW_10_2_13
cd CMSSW_10_2_13/src
git clone HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
cd HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit

Update to a recommended tag - currently the recommended tag is v8.2.0: see release notes

cd $CMSSW_BASE/src/HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
git fetch origin
git checkout v8.2.0
scramv1 b clean; scramv1 b # always make a clean build

SLC6/CC7 release CMSSW_8_1_X

Setting up OS using apptainer (see detailed instructions):

# For CC7:
# For SLC6:

cmsrel CMSSW_8_1_0
cd CMSSW_8_1_0/src
git clone HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
cd HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit

Update to a recommended tag - currently the recommended tag for CMSSW_8_1_X is v7.0.13:

cd $CMSSW_BASE/src/HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
git fetch origin
git checkout v7.0.13
scramv1 b clean; scramv1 b # always make a clean build

Pre-compiled versions of the tool are available as container images from the CMS cloud. These containers can be downloaded and run using Docker. If you have docker running you can pull and run the latest image using,

docker run --name combine -it

You will now have the compiled Combine binary available as well as the complete package of tool. The container can be re-started using docker start -i combine.

Standalone compilation

The standalone version can be easily compiled using cvmfs as it relies on dependencies that are already installed at /cvmfs/ Access to /cvmfs/ can be obtained from lxplus machines or via CernVM. See CernVM for further details on the latter. In case you do not want to use the cvmfs area, you will need to adapt the locations of the dependencies listed in both the Makefile and files.

git clone HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
cd HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit/ 
# git checkout <some release>
make -j 4

You will need to source each time you want to use the package, or add it to your login environment.

Standalone compilation with LCG

For compilation outside of CMSSW, for example to use ROOT versions not yet available in CMSSW, one can compile against LCG releases. The current default is to compile with LCG_102, which contains ROOT 6.26:

git clone HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
cd HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
make LCG=1 -j 8

To change the LCG version, edit

The resulting binaries can be moved for use in a batch job if the following files are included in the job tarball:

tar -zcf Combine_LCG_env.tar.gz build interface src/classes.h --exclude=obj
Standalone compilation with conda

This recipe will work both for linux and MacOS

git clone HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit
cd HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit

conda install --name base mamba # faster conda
mamba env create -f conda_env.yml

conda activate combine
# Need to reactivate
conda deactivate
conda activate combine

make CONDA=1 -j 8

Using Combine from then on should only require sourcing the conda environment

conda activate combine

Note: on OS X, Combine can only accept workspaces, so run first. This is due to an issue with child processes and LD_LIBRARY_PATH (see note in Makefile)

Standalone compilation with CernVM

Combine, either standalone or not, can be compiled via CVMFS using access to /cvmfs/ obtained using a virtual machine - CernVM. To use CernVM You should have access to CERN IT resources. If you are a CERN user you can use your account, otherwise you can request a lightweight account. If you have a CERN user account, we strongly suggest you simply run one of the other standalone installations, which are simpler and faster than using a VM.

You should have a working VM on your local machine, compatible with CernVM, such as VirtualBox. All the required software can be downloaded here. At least 2GB of disk space should be reserved on the virtual machine for Combine to work properly and the machine must be contextualized to add the CMS group to CVMFS. A minimal working setup is described below.

  1. Download the CernVM-launcher for your operating system, following the instructions available [here] for your operating system (

  2. Prepare a CMS context. You can use the CMS open data one already available on gitHub: wget

  3. Launch the virtual machine cernvm-launch create --name combine --cpus 2 cms-opendata-2011.context

  4. In the VM, proceed with an installation of combine

Installation through CernVM is maintained on a best-effort basis and these instructions may not be up to date.

What has changed between tags?

You can generate a diff of any two tags (eg for v9.1.0 and v9.0.0) by using the following url:

Replace the tag names in the url to any tags you would like to compare.

For developers

We use the Fork and Pull model for development: each user creates a copy of the repository on GitHub, commits their requests there, and then sends pull requests for the administrators to merge.


  1. Register on GitHub, as needed anyway for CMSSW development:

  2. Register your SSH key on GitHub:

  3. Fork the repository to create your copy of it: (more documentation at )

You will now be able to browse your fork of the repository from

We strongly encourage you to contribute any developments you make back to the main repository. See for details about contributing.


CombineTools is an additional tool for submitting Combine jobs to batch systems or crab, which was originally developed in the context of Higgs to tau tau analyses. Since the repository contains a certain amount of analysis-specific code, the following scripts can be used to clone it with a sparse checkout for just the core CombineHarvester/CombineTools subpackage, speeding up the checkout and compile times:

git clone via ssh:

bash <(curl -s

git clone via https:

bash <(curl -s

make sure to run scram to compile the CombineTools package.

See the CombineHarvester documentation pages for more details on using this tool and additional features available in the full package.