Delayed

Sometimes problems don’t fit into one of the collections like dask.array or dask.dataframe. In these cases, users can parallelize custom algorithms using the simpler dask.delayed interface. This allows one to create graphs directly with a light annotation of normal python code.

>>> x = dask.delayed(inc)(1)
>>> y = dask.delayed(inc)(2)
>>> z = dask.delayed(add)(x, y)
>>> z.compute()
5
>>> z.vizualize()
simple task graph created with dask.delayed

Example

Sometimes we face problems that are parallelizable, but don’t fit high-level abstractions Dask array or Dask dataframe. Consider the following example:

def inc(x):
    return x + 1

def double(x):
    return x + 2

def add(x, y):
    return x + y

data = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

output = []
for x in data:
    a = inc(x)
    b = double(x)
    c = add(a, b)
    output.append(c)

total = sum(output)

There is clearly parallelism in this problem (many of the inc and double and add functions can evaluate independently), but it’s not clear how to convert this to a big array or big dataframe computation.

As written this code runs sequentially in a single thread. However we see that a lot of this could be executed in parallel.

The Dask delayed function decorates your functions so that they operate lazily. Rather than executing your function immediately it will defer execution, placing the function and its arguments into a task graph.

delayed Wraps a function or object to produce a Delayed.

We slightly modify our code by wrapping functions in delayed. This delays the execution of the function and generates a dask graph instead.

import dask

output = []
for x in data:
    a = dask.delayed(inc)(x)
    b = dask.delayed(double)(x)
    c = dask.delayed(add)(a, b)
    output.append(c)

total = dask.delayed(sum)(output)

We used the dask.delayed function to wrap the function calls that we want to turn into tasks. None of the inc, double, add or sum calls have happened yet, instead the object total is a Delayed result that contains a task graph of the entire computation. Looking at the graph we see clear opportunities for parallel execution. The dask schedulers will exploit this parallelism, generally improving performance. (although not in this example, because these functions are already very small and fast.)

total.visualize()  # see image to the right
simple task graph created with dask.delayed

We can now compute this lazy result to execute the graph in parallel:

>>> total.compute()
45

Decorator

It is also common to see the delayed function used as a decorator. Here is a reproduction of our original problem as a parallel code.

import dask

@dask.delayed
def inc(x):
    return x + 1

@dask.delayed
def double(x):
    return x + 2

@dask.delayed
def add(x, y):
    return x + y

data = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

output = []
for x in data:
    a = inc(x)
    b = double(x)
    c = add(a, b)
    output.append(c)

total = dask.delayed(sum)(output)

Real time

Sometimes you want to create and destroy work during execution, launch tasks from other tasks, etc.. For this, see the Futures interface.

Best Practices

For a list of common problems and recommendations see Delayed Best Practices