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titleDocument under development!

This document is still under development and is being written/edited by RCSG and Mathworks staff.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents


There are several ways in which to submit Matlab jobs to a cluster.  This document will cover the various ways to run Matlab compute jobs on the Shared Research Compute clusters, which will include using the Parallel Computing Toolbox (PCT) and the Matlab Distributed Compute Engine (MDCE) to submit many independent tasks and to submit a single task that has parallel components.   Examples are included.


Task Parallel - Multiple independent iterations within your workflow.

Data Parallel - Single program working on a problem across multiple processors.


Orchestrate Parallel Toolbox jobs from the cluster login nodes

Set up MATLAB Parallel Computing Toolbox from a cluster login node on DAVINCI

Have GPU accelerated MATLAB code?


Need to go even faster?

MATLAB is a big Java virtual machine, and although Java has made strides in recent years, it is still slower than running native code. Enter the MATLAB Compiler. This allows you to compile MATLAB scripts into binaries that can run natively in the cluster environment. We can direct you to resources for compiling frequently run MATLAB scripts into binaries and run them on the clusters.



Task Parallel Application - The same application that runs independently on several nodes, possibly with different input parameters.  There is no communication, shared data, or synchronization points between the nodes.

Data Parallel Application - The same application that runs on several labs simultaneously, with communication, shared data, or synchronization points between the labs.

Lab - A MATLAB worker in a multicore (Data Parallel) job.  One lab is assigned to one worker (core).  Thus, a job with eight labs has eight processor cores allocated to it and will have eight workers each working together as peers.

MDCS - MATLAB Distributed Compute Server.  This is a component of


MATLAB that allows our clusters to run


MATLAB jobs that exceed the size of a single compute node (multinode parallel jobs). 


It also allows jobs to run even if there are not enough toolbox licenses available for a particular toolbox, so long as the university owns at least one license for the particular toolbox. 

Matlab Task - Individual Matlab compute job.

Matlab Job - Submission from within the Matlab GUI that can contain one or more tasks.

Job - Job submitted via the PBS job scheduler (also called PBS Job).

Interactive Jobs

take from old FAQ

Running Jobs with PBS qsub

Good for jobs that are single processor jobs and do not encounter any toolbox license issues.  Take from old FAQ.

Using MDCE for Task Parallel and Data Parallel Jobs

Using MDCE will allow you to submit multiple jobs with a single job submission (Task Parallel) or submit a single task that is a multiprocessor (and possibly multinode) job.  In order to run this type of job you must first configure Matlab for this type of job submission by following these steps;

titleOne-time Setup

These steps need to be performed only once.  Subsequent runs of Matlab need not repeat these steps.

Configuring Matlab

1.   In your home directory create the MdcsDataLocation/sugar subdirectory.

Code Block

mkdir -p ~/MdcsDataLocation/sugar

2.  Load the Matlab 2011a environment:

Code Block

module load matlab/2011a

3.  Run Matlab on the login node:

Code Block


4.  In Matlab, add the ddd folder to your Matlab path so that Matlab will be able to find the scripts necessary to submit and schedule jobs.

  1. Click on File and then Set Path
  2. Click the Add Folder button
  3. Specify the following folder:
    titleError saving pathdef.m

    If Matlab reports that it is unable to save pathdef.m in your current folder, then follow the prompts to select your home folder before saving the file.

5.  Import the cluster configuration for sugar

  1. Click on Parallel and then Manage Configurations
  2. Click on File and then Import
  3. Navigate to /opt/apps/matlab/2011a-scripts and select the configuration for the system you are using, such as sugar.mat, davinci.mat, stic.mat, and so forth.
  4. Select the configuration for the system you are using and click on Start Validation
    1. All four stages should pass:  Find Resources, Distributed Job, Parallel Job, Matlabpool
      titleValidation will fail on a busy cluster

      If the cluster is busy such that a job submission must wait before it will run then the validation steps will fail.

If all validation stages succeed, then you are ready to run jobs with MDCE.

Submitting Task Parallel Jobs

The following is an example of a Task Parallel job.  The task-parallel example code, frontDemo, calculates the risk and return based on historical data from a collection of stock prices. The core of the code, calcFrontier, minimizes the equations for a set of returns. In order to parallelize the code, the for loop is converted into a parfor loop.  View the m code here.

To submit the job, copy submitParJobToCluster.m into your working directory, make the necessary modifications for your job environment, and then run the code from within Matlab.  This will submit the job.   The code can be downloaded from here.  An explanation of the code follows:

Code Block

function job = submitParJobToCluster()

if nargin==0, sz = 3; end

% Set the walltime to 5 minutes
ClusterInfo.setWallTime('00:05:00');                  % change this to the actual walltime that you need.
ClusterInfo.setEmailAddress('YourEmailAddressHere')   % include your email address here.

job = batch(@frontDemo,2,{},'Matlabpool',sz,'CaptureDiary', true);   % this submits the frontDemo.m job.
job.wait                                                             % the Matlab GUI will pause here until the job finishes
   out = job.getAllOutputArguments();                                % get all output arguments from the completed job
   r = out{1}; v = out{2};
   plot(r,v)                                                         % plot the results
catch ME

if nargout==0
   clear job

titleJob Submission Best Practice

The above is only an example used to illustrate how to submit a job and retrieve the results from within the same Matlab session.  In most cases using job.wait will not be desirable because of the length of time it might take for a job to start running (perhaps several hours).  The best practice is to have your m code write the results to a file, rather than waiting for it to finish and retrieving the results with job.getAllOutputArguments();

Submitting Data Parallel Jobs

PCT - Parallel Computing Toolbox.

MATLAB Task - One segment of a job to be evaluated by a worker.

MATLAB Job - The complete large-scale operation to perform in MATLAB, composed of a set of tasks.

MATLAB Worker - The MATLAB session that performs the task computations.  If a job needs eight processor cores, then it must have eight workers.

Job - Job submitted via the SLURM job scheduler (also called SLURM Job).