Parallel Programming using R in Windows

Ashamed at my lack of parallel programming, I decided to learn some R Parallel Programming (after all parallel blogging is not really respect worthy in tech-geek-ninja circles).

So I did the usual Google- CRAN- search like a dog thing only to find some obstacles.


Some Parallel Programming Packages like doMC are not available in Windows

Some Parallel Programming Packages like doSMP depend on Revolution’s Enterprise R (like –

and (No the latest hack didnt work)

or are in testing like multicore (for Windows) so not available on CRAN

fortunately available on RForge

Revolution did make DoSnow AND foreach available on CRAN


but the documentation in SNOW is overwhelming (hint- I use Windows , what does that tell you about my tech acumen) and

what is a PVM or MPI? and SOCKS are for wearing or getting lost in washers till I encountered them in SNOW

Finally I did the following-and made the parallel programming work in Windows using R

cl<-makeCluster(2) # I have two cores
# create a function to run in each itteration of the loop

check <-function(n) {

+ for(i in 1:1000)

+ {

+ sme <- matrix(rnorm(100), 10,10)

+ solve(sme)

+ }

+ }
times <- 100     # times to run the loop
system.time(x <- foreach(j=1:times ) %dopar% check(j))
user  system elapsed
0.16    0.02   19.17
system.time(for(j in 1:times ) x <- check(j))
user  system elapsed</pre>
39.66    0.00   40.46


And it works!

9 thoughts on “Parallel Programming using R in Windows

  1. that time i’m quite sure i pasted it, maybe i’ve hit on a wordpress bug..

    system.time(x <- foreach(j=1:times ) %dopar% check(j))
    user system elapsed
    0.10 0.01 22.01
    system.time(for(j in 1:times ) x <- check(j))
    user system elapsed
    21.98 0.02 22.03

    1. It is interesting to see 64 bit OS’s effects on processing time as there is hardly any improvement. I redid the same using Amazon ec2 environment also.

      In fact in my next blog post I am using the same example but on Amazon large instance (dual core 64 bit 7.5 gb RAM) and I find it is still faster than doing the foreach loop locally on a 32 bit 3gb RAM machine.

      1. if it were a four or eight core machine, would it make a difference? or does the 64bit windows r build just completely squelch out the possibility of any time improvement from parallel processing?


  2. Hi Ajay,

    I didn’t know about “doSNOW”, that’s cool to know.

    I’ve been able to make doSMP work fine (R 2.11.1 with win-7, and also on 2.10 with win XP), but I am glad there are more solutions out there for windows.


    1. I am using Windows XP SP2 R 2.11.1 – I did the same, copy folders from R Enterprise, and downloaded the RI.. from the site, still it didnt recognize doSMP as a package. Yes doSNOW is a cool package and REVO is to be thanked

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