Multiprocessing Niceness in Python

Andrew Bolster

Researcher at the University of Liverpool, Founder/Director at Farset Labs

Quick and dirty one that tripped me up.

Recently I’ve been doing lots of multiprocessing and joblib-based parallel processing, with loooong simulation times.

In an effort to make sure that my machine was still useable during these runs, I changed the ‘niceness’ value of the spawned processes… or so I thought.

import os
...
def thread_mask(args):
    # Properly Parallel RNG
    #http://stackoverflow.com/questions/444591/convert-a-string-of-bytes-into-an-int-python
    myid=current_process()._identity[0]
    np.random.seed(myid^struct.unpack("<L",os.urandom(4))[0])

    os.nice(5)

    return long_simulation(args)

First part is a handy way to make sure that your subprocess simulations actually use different random numbers…. which for Monte Carlo style simulation is pretty damned important…

But, simple enough os.nice call. I reads like it says “Set the niceness value of this process to 5”.

It does not, it Increments the niceness value. (And returns the new value)

This means that after a few repeated iterations of this simulation, my processes end up with the maximum niceness (i.e. least priority) of 19. Which is not ideal.

Simple enough fix however; swap the os.nice(5) call with:

    # Be Nice
    niceness=os.nice(0)
    os.nice(5-niceness)

Published: May 07 2014

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