To get a first insight into the usage of batchtools, we start with an exemplary Monte Carlo simulation to approximate \(\pi\). For background information, see Wikipedia.

First, a so-called registry object has to be created, which defines a directory where all relevant information, files and results of the computational jobs will be stored. There are two different types of registry objects: First, a regular Registry which we will use in this example. Second, an ExperimentRegistry which provides an alternative way to define computational jobs and thereby is tailored for a broad range of large scale computer experiments (see, for example, this vignette). Here, we use a temporary registry which is stored in the temp directory of the system and gets automatically deleted if you close the R session.

reg = makeRegistry(file.dir = NA, seed = 1)

For a permanent registry, set the file.dir to a valid path. It can then be reused later, e.g., when you login to the system again, by calling the function loadRegistry(file.dir).

When a registry object is created or loaded, it is stored for the active R session as the default. Therefore the argument reg will be ignored in functions calls of this example, assuming the correct registry is set as default. To get the current default registry, getDefaultRegistry can be used. To switch to another registry, use setDefaultRegistry().

First, we create a function which samples \(n\) points \((x_i, y_i)\) whereas \(x_i\) and \(y_i\) are distributed uniformly, i.e. \(x_i, y_i \sim \mathcal{U}(0,1)\). Next, the distance to the origin \((0, 0)\) is calculated and the fraction of points in the unit circle (\(d \leq 1\)) is returned.

piApprox = function(n) {
  nums = matrix(runif(2 * n), ncol = 2)
  d = sqrt(nums[, 1]^2 + nums[, 2]^2)
  4 * mean(d <= 1)
## [1] 3.1

We now parallelize piApprox() with batchtools: We create 10 jobs, each doing a MC simulation with \(10^5\) jobs. We use batchMap() to define the jobs (note that this does not yet start the calculation):

batchMap(fun = piApprox, n = rep(1e5, 10))
## Adding 10 jobs ...

The length of the vector or list defines how many different jobs are created, while the elements itself are used as arguments for the function. The function batchMap(fun, ...) works analogously to Map(f, ...) of the base package. An overview over the jobs and their IDs can be retrieved with getJobTable() which returns a data frame with all relevant information:

##  [1] ""       "submitted"    "started"      "done"        
##  [5] "error"        "memory"       ""     "log.file"    
##  [9] "job.hash"     "time.queued"  "time.running" "n"           
## [13] "tags"

Note that a unique job ID is assigned to each job. These IDs can be used to restrict operations to subsets of jobs. To actually start the calculation, call submitJobs(). The registry and the selected job IDs can be taken as arguments as well as an arbitrary list of resource requirements, which are to be handled by the cluster back end.

submitJobs(resources = list(walltime = 3600, memory = 1024))
## Submitting 10 jobs in 10 chunks using cluster functions 'Interactive' ...

In this example, a cap for the execution time (so-called walltime) and for the maximum memory requirements are set. The progress of the submitted jobs can be checked with getStatus().

## Syncing 10 files ...
## Status for 10 jobs:
##   Submitted : 10 (100.0%)
##   Queued    :  0 (  0.0%)
##   Started   : 10 (100.0%)
##   Running   :  0 (  0.0%)
##   Done      : 10 (100.0%)
##   Error     :  0 (  0.0%)
##   Expired   :  0 (  0.0%)

The resulting output includes the number of jobs in the registry, how many have been submitted, have started to execute on the batch system, are currently running, have successfully completed, and have terminated due to an R exception. After jobs have successfully terminated, we can load their results on the master. This can be done in a simple fashion by using either loadResult(), which returns a single result exactly in the form it was calculated during mapping, or by using reduceResults(), which is a version of Reduce() from the base package for registry objects.

## [1] TRUE
mean(sapply(1:10, loadResult))
## [1] 3.140652
reduceResults(function(x, y) x + y) / 10
## [1] 3.140652

If you are absolutely sure that your function works, you can take a shortcut and use batchtools in an lapply fashion using btlapply(). This function creates a temporary registry (but you may also pass one yourself), calls batchMap(), wait for the jobs to terminate with waitForJobs() and then uses reduceResultsList() to return the results.

res = btlapply(rep(1e5, 10), piApprox)
## Sourcing configuration file '~/.batchtools.conf.R' ...
## Adding 10 jobs ...
## Submitting 10 jobs in 10 chunks using cluster functions 'Interactive' ...
## Syncing 10 files ...
## [1] 3.138888