High-performance computing in R at useR! 2008

August 12, 2008

(This article was first published on Mario's Entangled Bank » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

The useR! 2008 meeting is about to commence. Although I am not able to go this year I will be keeping a close eye on the talks and slides that (I assume) will be posted.  Last years useR! meeting (which I attended) was a great experience and considering the list of participants for this years meeting, it is bound to be a very interesting meeting. Dirk Eddelbuettel has already posted the slides to his talk entitled “Introduction to High-Performance R” on his web site. Clearly, anyone using R on, say, computer clusters would find this highly relevant.

On a side note, it would be interesting to have some idea of how commonly R is used on computer clusters. I have been using R on our in-house cluster for a few years now, and although it may sound a bit counterintuitive to run a high-level interpreted language such as R in a high-performance computing environment such as a cluster (most people would use a low-level compiled language like C for example), using R has the big advantage of allowing very fast prototyping. In other words, although the R code runs slower on the cluster than native C code would do it takes much less time to code it. Of course, for certain classes of models there is no other option that using C (or a similar low-level language), but if you can get away with R, a cluster allows you to run your serial code (or parallelized R code) in parallel with potentially huge time savings.

This is from the “Mario’s Entangled Bank” blog ( http://pineda-krch.com ) of Mario Pineda-Krch, a theoretical biologist at the University of California, Davis.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Mario's Entangled Bank » R.

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