Using MATLAB on Quest

Setup and reference instructions for running MATLAB on Quest.

We provide a summary of the different ways to run MATLAB on Quest and which option is right for you will depend on the type of MATLAB code you are running and if parallelization (either explicit through the use of parfor or implicit through MATLAB's internal multithreading) will provide impactful speeds up of your software.

Submitting single core MATLAB jobs

In many situations, it will be most beneficial to run a single core MATLAB job. Even when you are not explicitly parallelizing your code, you should be aware of MATLAB's use of multithreading which will need to be disabled by passing the command line argument -singleCompThread in order to run a single core MATLAB job. Below we provide an example submission script called example_submit.sh and an example MATLAB script called simple.m.

example_submit.sh

#!/bin/bash
#SBATCH --account=w10001 ## YOUR ACCOUNT pXXXX or bXXXX
#SBATCH --partition=w10001 ### PARTITION (buyin, short, normal, w10001, etc)
#SBATCH --nodes=1 ## Never need to change this
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=1 ## Never need to change this
#SBATCH --time=00:10:00 ## how long does this need to run (remember different partitions have restrictions on this param)
#SBATCH --mem=4G ## how much RAM you need per computer (this effects your FairShare score so be careful to not ask for more than you need))
#SBATCH --output=matlab_job.out ## standard out and standard error goes to this file


## job commands; simple is the MATLAB .m file, specified without the .m extension
module load matlab/r2021b
matlab -singleCompThread -batch "input_arg1='arg1';input_arg2='arg2';input_arg3='arg3';simple"

simple.m

%input_arg1 is set in the submission script that calls this file
%input_arg2 is set in the submission script that calls this file
%input_arg3 is set in the submission script that calls this file


disp(input_arg1)
disp(input_arg2)
disp(input_arg3)


disp('Start Sim')
t0 = tic;
for i = 1:100000
A{i} = rand(1);
end
t = toc(t0);

X = sprintf('Simulation took %f seconds',t);
disp(X)

If both of these files are in the same folder, you can run this MATLAB job through SLURM by running

sbatch example_submit.sh

Submitting many single core MATLAB jobs, changing only the input arguments

Let's say that we want to submit the exact same single core MATLAB job many times over while only changing the arguments that are passed to simple.m. We can accomplish this through a using a SLURM Job Array. In the example below, the --array option defines the job array, with a specification of the index numbers you want to use (in this case, 0 through 9). The $SLURM_ARRAY_TASK_ID bash environmental variable takes on the value of the job array index for each job (so here, integer values 0 through 9, one value for each job). In this example, the value of $SLURM_ARRAY_TASK_ID is used to select the correct index from the input_args bash array which was constructed by reading in input_arguments.txt, each row of which is then passed on to a script as command line arguments. Essentially, each row of input_arguments.txt represents a job in your job array and each column represents an input argument (in this example input_arguments[1-3]) to your script.

example_submit.sh

#!/bin/bash
#SBATCH --account=w10001 ## YOUR ACCOUNT pXXXX or bXXXX
#SBATCH --partition=w10001 ### PARTITION (buyin, short, normal, w10001, etc)
#SBATCH --array=0-9 ## number of jobs to run "in parallel"
#SBATCH --nodes=1 ## Never need to change this
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=1 ## Never need to change this
#SBATCH --time=15:00:00 ## how long does this need to run (remember different partitions have restrictions on this param)
#SBATCH --mem=8G ## how much RAM do you need per computer (this effects your FairShare score so be careful to not ask for more than you need))
#SBATCH --job-name="sample_job_\${SLURM_ARRAY_TASK_ID}" ## use the task id in the name of the job
#SBATCH --output=sample_job.%A_%a.out ## use the jobid (A) and the specific job index (a) to name your log file


# read in each row of the input_arguments text file into an array called input_args
IFS=$'\n' read -d '' -r -a input_arguments < input_arguments.txt

# Use the SLURM_ARRAY_TASK_ID varaible to select the correct index from input_arguments and then split the string by whatever delimiter you chose (in our case each input argument is split by a space)
IFS=' ' read -r -a input_args <<< "${input_arguments[$SLURM_ARRAY_TASK_ID]}"

# Pass the input arguments associated with this SLURM_ARRAY_TASK_ID to your function.
## job commands; job_array is the MATLAB .m file, specified without the .m extension
module load matlab/r2021b
matlab -singleCompThread -batch "input_arg1='${input_args[0]}';input_arg2='${input_args[1]}';input_arg3='${input_args[2]}';simple"

input_arguments.txt

job1_arg1 job1_arg2 job1_arg3
job2_arg1 job2_arg2 job2_arg3
job3_arg1 job3_arg2 job3_arg3
job4_arg1 job4_arg2 job4_arg3
job5_arg1 job5_arg2 job5_arg3
job6_arg1 job6_arg2 job6_arg3
job7_arg1 job7_arg2 job7_arg3
job8_arg1 job8_arg2 job8_arg3
job9_arg1 job9_arg2 job9_arg3
job10_arg1 job10_arg2 job10_arg3

If both of these files are in the same folder, you can run this MATLAB job array through SLURM by running

sbatch example_submit.sh

Multithreading (MATLAB Computational Threads)

MATLAB has built-in multithreading for some linear algebra and numerical functions. By default, MATLAB will try to use all of the cores on a machine to perform these computations. However, if a job you've submitted to Quest uses more cores than were requested, the job will be cancelled. If you want MATLAB to be able to use multiple cores for these calculations, then you can omit the -singleCompThread option when starting MATLAB and add the following line to the beginning of your main .m script.

maxNumCompThreads(str2num(getenv('SLURM_NPROCS')));

Adding this line to your .m script is to be used in combination with the following options below in your submission script or sbatch command:

#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=<numberofcores>

Example

#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=8

This will allow MATLAB to spawn 8 parallel threads which is equal to the 8 CPU resources that you will have requested and received from the scheduler.

Note: Setting the maximum number of computational threads using maxNumCompThreads does not propagate to your next MATLAB session and so if you are typing commands in the command window, then you must do this everytime you start a new MATLAB session.

Below, we show both an example of a MATLAB program that would benefit from utilizing MATLAB's internal multithreading and by exactly how much it would benefit and an example of a MATLAB program that would not benefit from utilizing MATLAB's internal multithreading. In the following program(s), the MATLAB function that benefits from MATLAB's auto-multithreading is svd. For both of the MATLAB programs below threads_help.m and threads_do_not_help.m, we make two different computing resource requests to highlight the impact of multithreading, 1 CPU on 1 computer and 8 CPUs on 1 computer. The former request will restrict maxNumCompThreads to be 1 which is equivalent to running MATLAB with the -singleCompThread option.

threads_help.m

disp('Start Sim')
maxNumCompThreads(str2num(getenv('SLURM_NPROCS')));

t0 = tic;

for i = 5000:5100
z = randn(i);
max(svd(z));
end
t = toc(t0);

X = sprintf('Simulation took %f seconds',t);
disp(X)

Due to the size of the matrices being passed to svd (somewhere between 5000x5000 and 5100x5100), we do find a substantive difference (~5 time faster) when svd is able to parallelize over 8 CPUs. Note that the scaling is not 1 to 1 in terms of how much faster the simulations goes and how many CPUs you give MATLAB access to. In this case, access to 8 CPUs leads only to a 5X speed up, not 8.

8 CPUs: Simulation took 1233.587702 seconds

1 CPU: Simulation took 6446.807831 seconds

threads_do_not_help.m

disp('Start Sim')
maxNumCompThreads(str2num(getenv('SLURM_NPROCS')));

t0 = tic;

for i = 500:510
z = randn(i);
max(svd(z));
end
t = toc(t0);

X = sprintf('Simulation took %f seconds',t);
disp(X)

Due to the size of the matrices being passed to svd (somewhere between 500x500 and 510x510), we do not find a substantive difference (~1.5 time faster) when svd is able to parallelize over 8 CPUs.

1 CPU: Simulation took 1.044554 seconds

8 CPUs: Simulation took 0.683330 seconds

A final note, it is very likely that if you run the same program on Quest as you do on your local labtop or workstation in a single core configuration you will find that it will take longer to run on Quest than on your laptop due to this automated multithreading behavior from MATLAB. That being said, enabling the multithreading behavior in MATLAB comes at a cost of needing to request more CPUs which may or may not being used efficiently by MATLAB depending on the exact functions you call and the size of the data/matrices being operated on as can be seen from the above example.

Submitting Scalable (Single or Multi node) Parallel MATLAB Jobs

Note that any version before 2017a (i.e. 2016a, 2015a, 2014b, 2014a and 2013a) is not supported by Slurm scheduler for scalable parallelization.

To run parallel jobs on Quest that use cores across multiple nodes, you need to create a parallel profile.

Log in to Quest with X-forwarding enabled (use the -X option when connecting via ssh or connect with FastX to have X-forwarding enabled by default).

Launch MATLAB on the login node you land on from your home directory:

module load matlab/r2021b
matlab

CONFIGURATION OF QUEST CLUSTER

We will configure MATLAB to run parallel jobs on Quest by calling configCluster. configCluster only needs to be called once per version of MATLAB. Please be aware that running configCluster more than once per version will reset your cluster profile back to default settings and erase any saved modifications to the profile.

>> rehash toolboxcache
>> configCluster
Jobs will now default to the cluster rather than submit to the local machine.

Although the Cluster Profile created by this script will work out of the box, we recommend slightly modifying the Cluster Profile.

If you are using the MATLAB GUI on Quest, you should be able to see and modify new cluster profile by doing the following: Parallel > Create and Manage Clusters). You should see that the default Cluster Profile is now quest R20XXa/b depending on what version of MATLAB > r2017a you are using.

find-cluster-profile-manager clusterprofilemanager

Click Edit and change the JobStorageLocation entry and then click Done. We recommend updating the JobStorageLocation to be the default value of current working directory (which can be achieved by leaving the PATH blank).

changeJobStorageLocation

CONFIGURING JOBS

Prior to submitting the job, we can specify various parameters to pass to our jobs, such as partition, allocation, walltime, etc.

>> % Get a handle to the cluster
>> c = parcluster;

The following options are required in order to submit a MATLAB job to the cluster.

>> % Specify the walltime (e.g. 4 hours)
>> c.AdditionalProperties.WallTime = '04:00:00';

>> % Specify an account to use for MATLAB jobs (e.g. pXXXX, bXXXX, etc)
>> c.AdditionalProperties.AccountName = 'account-name';

>> % Specify a queue to use for MATLAB jobs (e.g. short, normal, long)
>> c.AdditionalProperties.QueueName = 'queue-name';

The following arguments are optional but are worth considering when running MATLAB jobs on the cluster

>> % Specify memory to use for MATLAB jobs, per core (default: 4gb)
>> c.AdditionalProperties.MemUsage = '6gb';

>> % Specify number of nodes to use
>> c.AdditionalProperties.Nodes = 1;

>> % Require exclusive node
>> c.AdditionalProperties.RequireExclusiveNode = false;

>> % Specify e-mail address to receive notifications about your job
>> c.AdditionalProperties.EmailAddress = 'user-id@northwestern.edu';

The following arguments are apply when running GPU accelerated MATLAB jobs

>> % Specify number of GPUs
>> c.AdditionalProperties.GpusPerNode = 1;

>> % Specify type of GPU card to use (e.g. a100)
>> c.AdditionalProperties.GpuCard = '';

Save changes after modifying AdditionalProperties for the above changes to persist between MATLAB sessions.

>> c.saveProfile

To see the values of the current configuration options, display AdditionalProperties.

>> % To view current properties
>> c.AdditionalProperties

Unset a value when no longer needed.

>> % Turn off email notifications
>> c.AdditionalProperties.EmailAddress = '';
>> c.saveProfile

PARALLEL BATCH JOB

Users can submit parallel workflows with the batch command either with or without the MATLAB GUI. Let’s use the following example for a parallel job, which is saved as quest_parallel_example.m.

disp('Start Sim')

iter = 100000;
t0 = tic;
parfor idx = 1:iter
A(idx) = idx;
end
t = toc(t0);

X = sprintf('Simulation took %f seconds',t);
disp(X)

save RESULTS A t

SUBMITTING A PARALLEL BATCH JOB THROUGH THE MATLAB GUI

First, we will make a MATLAB script called submit_matlab_job.m which we will place in the same directory as quest_parallel_example.m and will look a lot like a SLURM submission script.

% Get a handle to the cluster
c = parcluster;

%% Required arguments in order to submit MATLAB job


% Specify the walltime (e.g. 4 hours)
c.AdditionalProperties.WallTime = '01:00:00';

% Specify an account to use for MATLAB jobs (e.g. pXXXX, bXXXX, etc)
c.AdditionalProperties.AccountName = 'w10001';

% Specify a queue/partition to use for MATLAB jobs (e.g. short, normal, long)
c.AdditionalProperties.QueueName = 'w10001';

%% optional arguments but worth considering

% Specify memory to use for MATLAB jobs, per core (default: 4gb)
c.AdditionalProperties.MemUsage = '5gb';

% Specify number of nodes to use
c.AdditionalProperties.Nodes = 1;

% Specify e-mail address to receive notifications about your job
c.AdditionalProperties.EmailAddress = 'quest_demo@northwestern.edu';

% The script that you want to run through SLURM needs to be in the MATLAB PATH
% Here we assume that quest_parallel_example.m lives in the same folder as submit_matlab_job.m
addpath(pwd)

% Finally we will submit the MATLAB script quest_parallel_example to SLURM such that MATLAB
% will request enough resources to run a parallel pool of size 4 (i.e. parallelize over 4 CPUs).,
job = c.batch('quest_parallel_example', 'Pool', 16, 'CurrentFolder', '.');

After you have written your SLURM submission script like MATLAB program, run submit_matlab_job.m using the Run button in the MATLAB GUI.

run-matlab-job-through-gui

MATLAB should output the arguments that it passes to the sbatch command used to submit a job to SLURM and which are based on the configuration settings in submit_matlab_job.m. Note that the number of tasks submitted is the size of the parallel pool plus one. This extra CPU is for the root or main MATLAB worker. You should also see a folder called JobX appear in your current working directory as can be seen in the screen shot below. This is the folder where the MATLAB job is running and where any print statements in your code will show up.

submit-matlab-job-result

If we enter into the Job1 folder, we will see that for every MATLAB task and/or worker there has a set of files associated with it. The most important file to keep in mind is Task1.diary.txt which is where any print or display statements that you have in your script will go. We demonstrate what Task1.diary.txt would contain based on our example job quest_parallel_example.m.
Job1-Folder  task1-diary-txt

MONITORING YOUR JOB THROUGH THE JOB MONITOR

MATLAB provides an application called the Job Monitor which can also be a handy way of checking on the status of your MATLAB jobs. To launch Job Monitor from the MATLAB GUI, go to Parallel > Job Monitor .

job-monitor-find  job-monitor

Job Monitor allows you to…

  • Check on the state of your MATLAB job (pending, running, finished).
  • If the job failed, Show Errors will display any MATLAB error messages.
  • If you had print statements in your MATLAB job (i.e. disp, fprintf, etc), then Show Diary will show all the standard output from your job.
  • Finally, Load Variables will allow you to load all of the variables defined in your program to your current WorkSpace.

job-monitor-options

We demonstrate running Show Diary and Load Variables after successfully running the program quest_parallel_example.m. Note the variables added to our workspace after running Load Variables.

show-diary-and-load-variables

SUBMITTING A PARALLEL BATCH JOB WITHOUT THE MATLAB GUI

If you do not plan to use the MATLAB GUI to run submit_matlab_job.m then you will want to create a bash script which will load MATLAB and run MATLAB in command line only mode.

Create a file called submit_matlab_job_wrapper.sh which contains these two lines

module load matlab/r2021b
matlab -singleCompThread -batch submit_matlab_job

All that is left to do is to submit the job by running

$ bash submit_matlab_job_wrapper.sh

on the command line. This will take a little while to run but you will know when MATLAB has submitted a job to SLURM when it outputs the sbatch command that it ran based on the configuration settings in submit_matlab_job.m. For example, the above MATLAB submission script would produce this output:

$ bash submit_matlab_job_wrapper.sh

additionalSubmitArgs =

'--ntasks=17 --cpus-per-task=1 --ntasks-per-core=1 -A w10001 -t 01:00:00 -p w10001 -N 1 --mem-per-cpu=5gb --mail-type=ALL --mail-user=quest_demo@northwestern.edu'

Note that the number of tasks submitting is the size of the parallel pool plus one. This extra CPU is for the root or main MATLAB worker.

GPU BATCH JOB

Users can submit GPU workflows with the batch command either with or without the MATLAB GUI. Let’s use the following example for a GPU job, which is saved as quest_gpu_example.m.

display(gpuDevice)
A = gpuArray([1 0 1; -1 -2 0; 0 1 -1]);
e = eig(A);

SUBMITTING A GPU BATCH JOB WITHOUT THE MATLAB GUI

In order to submit the above MATLAB job without the GUI, we will create two additional scripts, one BASH script and one MATLAB script.

First, we will make a MATLAB script called submit_matlab_job.m which will look a lot like a GPU SLURM submission script.

% Get a handle to the cluster
c = parcluster;

%% Required arguments in order to submit a MATLAB GPU job
% Specify the walltime (e.g. 4 hours)
c.AdditionalProperties.WallTime = '01:00:00';
% Specify an account to use for MATLAB jobs (e.g. pXXXX, bXXXX, etc)
c.AdditionalProperties.AccountName = 'w10001';
% Specify a queue/partition to use for MATLAB jobs (e.g. short, normal, long)
c.AdditionalProperties.QueueName = 'w10001';
% Specify number of GPUs
c.AdditionalProperties.GpusPerNode = 1;
% Specify type of GPU card to use (e.g. a100)
c.AdditionalProperties.GpuCard = 'a100';

%% optional arguments but worth considering
% Specify memory to use for MATLAB jobs, per core (default: 4gb)
c.AdditionalProperties.MemUsage = '5gb';
% Specify number of nodes to use
c.AdditionalProperties.Nodes = 1;
% Specify e-mail address to receive notifications about your job
c.AdditionalProperties.EmailAddress = 'quest_demo@northwestern.edu';

% The script that you want to run through SLURM needs to be in the MATLAB PATH
% Here we assume that quest_gpu_example.m lives in the same folder as submit_matlab_job.m
addpath(pwd)

% Finally we will submit the MATLAB script quest_gpu_example to SLURM such that MATLAB
job = c.batch('quest_gpu_example', 'CurrentFolder', '.');

After you have written your SLURM submission script like MATLAB program, we create a bash script which will simply run this MATLAB script which will submit a job to SLURM.

Create a file called submit_matlab_job_wrapper.sh which contains these two lines

module load matlab/r2021b
matlab -singleCompThread -batch submit_matlab_job

All that is left to do is to submit the job by running

$ bash submit_matlab_job_wrapper.sh

on the command line. This will take a little while to run but you will know when MATLAB has submitted a job to SLURM when it outputs the sbatch command that it ran based on the configuration settings in submit_matlab_job.m. For example, the above MATLAB submission script would produce this output:

$ bash submit_matlab_job_wrapper.sh

additionalSubmitArgs =

'--ntasks=1 --cpus-per-task=1 --ntasks-per-core=1 -A w10001 -t 01:00:00 -p w10001 -N 1 --gres=gpu:a100:1 --mem-per-cpu=5gb --mail-type=ALL --mail-user=quest_demo@northwestern.edu'

Note the line --gres=gpu:a100:1 which let's you know that your have correctly requested for this job to run on a GPU resource.


INTERACTIVE JOBS

To run an interactive pool job on the cluster, continue to use parpool as you’ve done before.

>> % Get a handle to the cluster
>> c = parcluster;

>> % Open a pool of 12 workers on the cluster
>> pool = c.parpool(12);

In the screenshot below, when you create the pool object MATLAB will show you the arugments that it is passing to SLURM in order to make running the pool on the cluster.

Rather than running local on the local machine, the pool can now run across multiple nodes on the cluster.

>> % Run a parfor over 1000 iterations
>> parfor idx = 1:1000
a(idx) = …
end

Once we’re done with the pool, delete it.

>> % Delete the pool
>> pool.delete

DEBUGGING

If a serial job produces an error, call the getDebugLog method to view the error log file. When submitting independent jobs, with multiple tasks, specify the task number.

>> c.getDebugLog(job.Tasks(3))

For Pool jobs, only specify the job object.

>> c.getDebugLog(job)

When troubleshooting a job, the cluster admin may request the scheduler ID of the job. This can be derived by calling schedID

>> schedID(job)

ans =

25539

TO LEARN MORE

To learn more about the MATLAB Parallel Computing Toolbox, check out these resources:

See Also:




Keywords:Quest, matlab, parallel, threading, multithreading, cross-node, cross node, profile, job profile   Doc ID:70716
Owner:Research Computing .Group:Northwestern
Created:2017-02-15 16:34 CDTUpdated:2022-03-10 13:42 CDT
Sites:Northwestern
CleanURL:https://kb.northwestern.edu/quest-matlab
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