What Is Parallel Computing in Python?
Parallel computing is a form of computation where many calculations or processes are carried out simultaneously. Large problems can often be divided into smaller ones, which can then be solved at the same time. In Python, parallel computing is implemented through various libraries and modules, allowing developers to leverage the power of multiple processors to solve complex computational issues.
Parallel computing with Python isn't just about making your programs run faster. It's about increasing the capacity available to your programs. You may not need your code to run faster, but you might need it to do more things at the same time, and that's where parallel computing comes into play.
Python, as a high-level programming language, provides a wide range of libraries and modules that support parallel computing. These libraries are easy to use and provide a high level of abstraction, hiding the complexities of parallel computing from the developer.
This is part of a series of articles about distributed computing.
In this article:
Why Is Parallelization Useful in Python?
Parallelization in Python is useful for a variety of reasons:
- It enables full utilization of available hardware. Modern computers come with multiple cores, and parallel computing allows developers to use all of them simultaneously, leading to more efficient computations. For example, a task that would take four hours to complete on a single core machine could potentially be completed in one hour on a four-core machine, assuming perfect parallelization.
- Transferring workloads to the GPU: If a GPU is available on the machine, it makes sense to transfer heavy workloads to the GPU processor, especially for image processing or machine learning.
- It allows for the processing of large amounts of data in a shorter amount of time. In the age of big data, this is a significant advantage. Data scientists and other professionals who work with large datasets can use parallelization to process and analyze their data more quickly, leading to faster insights and decision making.
- Python's simplicity and readability makes parallelization easier. Python's syntax is clean and easy to understand, making it easier for developers to write and debug parallel code.
How to Parallelize Python Code
Here are a few ways you can run computations in parallel in your Python programs.
Parallelizing using Pool.apply()
The Pool.apply() function is a part of the multiprocessing module in Python. It blocks the execution of the program until the result is ready. Let's look at an example of how to use Pool.apply() to parallelize Python code.
In this code, we define a function square() which takes an integer and returns its square. We then create a Pool of 4 processes and apply the square function to the number 10. The result is printed on the console.
Parallelizing using Pool.map()
The Pool.map() function is another handy tool in Python for parallelizing code. It applies a given function to an iterable of arguments. Here is an example:
In this code, we use the same square() function as before. However, this time we use Pool.map() to apply the function to a list of numbers. The function returns a list of results, which we print to the console.
Parallelizing using Pool.starmap()
The Pool.starmap() function in Python is similar to Pool.map(), but instead of iterating over arguments, it iterates over iterable sequences of arguments. Here's an example of how to use Pool.starmap() to parallelize Python code.
In this code, we define a function power() that takes two arguments and returns the first argument raised to the power of the second. We then use Pool.starmap() to apply this function over a list of tuples, each containing two elements. The function returns a list of results, which we print to the console.
Parallelizing with Pool.apply_async()
The Pool.apply_async() function allows for asynchronous execution of a function. It returns immediately without waiting for the result. Here's an example of how to use Pool.apply_async() to parallelize Python code.
In this code, we use the same square() function as before. We use Pool.apply_async() to apply the function to the number 10. Unlike Pool.apply(), Pool.apply_async() returns immediately without waiting for the result. We then use the get() method to retrieve the result when it's ready.
Parallelizing with Pool.starmap_async()
Finally, the Pool.starmap_async() function is an asynchronous version of Pool.starmap(). It applies a function to an iterable of argument sequences, similar to Pool.starmap(), but returns immediately without waiting for the results. Here's an example of how to use Pool.starmap_async() to parallelize Python code.
In this code, we use the same power() function as before. We use Pool.starmap_async() to apply the function over a list of tuples. Similar to Pool.apply_async(), Pool.starmap_async() returns immediately without waiting for the results. We then use the get() method to retrieve the results when they're ready.
Parallel Computing Libraries in Python
Beyond these basic techniques, here are several common Python libraries that support more complex parallel computing tasks.
NumPy is a Python library that provides support for large, multi-dimensional arrays and matrices, along with a large collection of high-level mathematical functions to operate on these arrays. NumPy is the fundamental package for numerical computation in Python. It provides an N-dimensional array object that can be used to perform parallel computations on large datasets.
NumPy's array object is a powerful data structure for efficient computation of arrays and matrices. It allows for the vectorization of mathematical operations, which leads to more efficient computations. This is particularly useful in the field of data science, where large datasets are the norm.
Moreover, NumPy provides numerous functions for performing computations on arrays, such as mathematical, logical, shape manipulation, sorting, selecting, I/O, discrete Fourier transforms, basic linear algebra, basic statistical operations, random simulation and much more. All of these functions are designed to work with N-dimensional arrays, making NumPy a powerful tool for parallel computing.
SciPy is another Python library used for scientific and technical computing. It builds on the NumPy array object and provides a large number of functions that operate on numpy arrays and are useful for different types of scientific and engineering applications.
SciPy's main strength lies in its ability to perform efficient and accurate numerical computations. It provides functions for numerical integration, interpolation, optimization, linear algebra, and statistics. These functions are optimized for performance and accuracy, making SciPy a powerful tool for scientific computing.
Furthermore, SciPy provides support for sparse matrices, which are often used in scientific and engineering applications. Sparse matrices are matrices in which most of the elements are zero. By only storing the non-zero elements, sparse matrices can significantly reduce memory usage and increase computational efficiency.
IPython Parallel is a Python library and a set of tools for controlling parallel computing. It provides a flexible and easy-to-use framework for developing and running parallel applications. IPython Parallel supports various forms of parallelism, including multi-core, distributed, and GPU computing.
IPython Parallel provides an interactive parallel computing environment, where you can execute code on multiple processors at the same time. It also provides a set of high-level tools for parallel computing, such as parallel function execution, load balancing, and data movement.
In addition, IPython Parallel supports the dynamic creation and management of parallel tasks. This allows developers to create parallel tasks on the fly, and to dynamically allocate resources based on the current workload. This dynamic nature makes IPython Parallel a powerful tool for adaptive parallel computing.
Parallel Computing and Run:ai
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