Suppose I have a file "Analysis.C" which takes a data file as input. The data file is named as "a.00001.txt" through "a.01000.txt". One way to loop over all the files is to write a shell script where I use sed to change the input file name in "Analysis.C" over an iteration from 0001 to 1000. However, I have to do this one input file at a time.

What I want is to run multiple instances of the file "Analysis.C" in parallel where it takes different inputs in each instance (the constraint here is the number of cores I can spare on my PC, I suppose), and executes the different instances at the same time. How do I do that?


See the parallel command (from the moreutils package in many distros). From the man page:

parallel runs the specified command, passing it a single one of the specified arguments. This is repeated for each argument. Jobs may be run in parallel. The default is to run one job per CPU.


parallel analysis.C -- a.0????.txt

With GNU Parallel you can do this:

parallel analysis.C ::: *.txt

Or if you have really many .txt-files:

printf '%s\0' *.txt | parallel -0 analysis.C

It will default to run one job per CPU thread. This can be adjusted with -j20 for 20 jobs in parallel.

Contrary to the parallel.moreutils-solution you can post process the output: The output is serialized, so you will never see output from two jobs mix.

GNU Parallel is a general parallelizer and makes is easy to run jobs in parallel on the same machine or on multiple machines you have ssh access to.

If you have 32 different jobs you want to run on 4 CPUs, a straight forward way to parallelize is to run 8 jobs on each CPU:

Simple scheduling

GNU Parallel instead spawns a new process when one finishes - keeping the CPUs active and thus saving time:

GNU Parallel scheduling


For security reasons you should install GNU Parallel with your package manager, but if GNU Parallel is not packaged for your distribution, you can do a personal installation, which does not require root access. It can be done in 10 seconds by doing this:

(wget -O - pi.dk/3 || curl pi.dk/3/ || fetch -o - http://pi.dk/3) | bash

For other installation options see http://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/parallel.git/tree/README

Learn more

See more examples: http://www.gnu.org/software/parallel/man.html

Watch the intro videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL284C9FF2488BC6D1

Walk through the tutorial: http://www.gnu.org/software/parallel/parallel_tutorial.html

Read the book: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1146014

Sign up for the email list to get support: https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/parallel

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