MATLAB Remote Job Submission

MATLAB Parallel Server is a set of MATLAB functions that extend the capabilities of the MATLAB Parallel Computing toolbox to allow you to submit jobs from directly to a remote HPC cluster. 

This allows you to take full advantage of the computing power available on the CRC's clusters to perform complex parallelized computations in MATLAB. Parallel jobs can be submitted either from an SBATCH submission on the clusters or on your own computer with custom a set of custom scripts that integrate with SLURM. In fact, you must use the MATLAB Parallel Server if you want to run MATLAB jobs that span multiple nodes. 

When you submit a MATLAB Parallel Server job from your MATLAB desktop client, scripts and data are transferred to the cluster by MATLAB.  Results from jobs that run on the cluster are readily available to MATLAB running on your desktop.  

The instructions on this page are for people who want to interact with Parallel Server from their own local machine. Instructions for submitting MATLAB Parallel Server jobs using sbatch scripts on the compute node are available on the cluster: /ihome/crc/how_to_run/matlab


Local Client Job Submission


  1. Your MATLAB version must be at least R2021a. Plugin scripts are also available for MATLAB 2022a. If you don’t have one of these versions, please visit, search for "MATLAB" and download and install R2021a or R2022a. Note: The 2022a plugin scripts seem to work fine with previous versions, but will work best with 2022a MATLAB.
  2. Make sure you are using the newest update of your version of MATLAB (Open MATLAB > "HOME" Tab > "RESOURCES" Section> "Help" Drop Down > Check for Updates).
  3. You must have the MATLAB Parallel Computing Toolbox installed. To see what toolboxes are installed, type the ver command in the MATLAB command window.  You should see Parallel Computing Toolbox listed. If you don't, you can open MATLAB > go to the home tab > Add-Ons > Get Add-Ons > Search for "Parallel Computing Toolbox" and Install (If you are using MATLAB licensed through the university).
  4. You must be connected to the CRC VPN in order to submit jobs from your desktop, if you are off-campus. (Please visit this page on how to set the VPN up.)

Download the Cluster Plugin Scripts

In order to submit jobs from your desktop, you will need to install some custom MATLAB plugin scripts that know how to interact with the Slurm job scheduler on a cluster. Use the link below to download the non-shared filesystem (used by your local client, you should not use them on the clusters as they share a filesystem with the MATLAB installation that is running the jobs) script bundle for your version of MATLAB: (recommended)   

IMPORTANT: The instructions below have been updated to correspond to the R2022a plugin scripts. Some cluster object fieldnames have changed. Changes from the previous scripts will be highlighted like this.

Unpack the Cluster Plugin Bundle to a Path on Your Computer

Copy the integration bundle file to a new folder on your computer, such as Downloads/matlab-parallel-server. Unpack the plugin bundle file into the path you choose.

Run the configCluster.m Script to Create a Cluster Profile

Open MATLAB.  In the Current Folder window, navigate to the path where you unpacked one of the cluster plugin bundles.  In that path, find the Matlab script called configCluster.m.  Run this script by right-clicking on the name and selecting Run.   (If MATLAB asks you if you want to add the path to your environment, select Add Path.)

Submission to the remote cluster requires SSH credentials. The configCluster script will prompt you to enter the username you use to log in to the cluster.  Just enter your Pitt username in lower case (e.g. abc123).  You should not append "" to it. The script also asks you your group name on H2P cluster. If you do not know what your group name is, login to the cluster and run the following command:

finger <your Pitt username>

For example:

[shs159@login1 ~]$ finger shs159 
Login: shs159                                      Name: shs159
Directory: /ihome/pgivi/shs159             Shell: /bin/bash
On since Tue Aug  3 15:06 (EDT) on pts/124 from
   4 days idle
No mail.
No Plan.
[shs159@login1 ~]$

Here, in  /ihome/xyz/abc123, xyz is your group name and abc123 is your Pitt username.

After you enter your username and your group name, the program will display an informational reminder that you will need to set the NumNodes and WallTime parameters before you can submit a job. We'll cover how to set job parameters in the next section.  A screenshot of a successful run of configCluster is shown below:

Jobs will now default to the cluster rather than submit to the local machine.

NOTE: If you would like to submit to the local machine then run the following command:

>> % Get a handle to the local resources
>> c = parcluster('local');



Working with Cluster Objects

Using cluster objects is central to using MATLAB Parallel Server.  The parcluster command is used to initialize a cluster object for your session:

>> c=parcluster
c = 
 Generic Cluster
                   Profile: h2p R2022a     
                  Modified: false
                      Host: localhost
                NumWorkers: 100000
                NumThreads: 1
        JobStorageLocation: /Users/shervin.sammak/MdcsDataLocation/h2p/Shervins-MBP.fios-router.home/R2022a/remote
         ClusterMatlabRoot: /ihome/crc/install/matlab/R2022a
           OperatingSystem: unix
   RequiresOnlineLicensing: false
     PluginScriptsLocation: /Users/shervin.sammak/Documents/MATLAB/IntegrationScripts/h2p
      AdditionalProperties: List properties
    Associated Jobs: 
            Number Pending: 0
             Number Queued: 0
            Number Running: 3
           Number Finished: 0
>> myjob2 = batch(c,'plot_sine','AutoAddClientPath' ,false, 'CurrentFolder', './test');
 3x1 Job array: 
         ID           Type        State              FinishDateTime        Username  Tasks
    1     2    independent      running                              shervin.sammak      1
    2     3           pool     finished                              shervin.sammak     40
    3     4           pool     finished                              shervin.sammak      9


Above, we first created a cluster object 'c' using the 'Pitt h2p R2022a' profile.  Then, we entered 'c' without a semi-colon to see the list of properties in the cluster object. Notice that there is a very important subset of properties called AdditionalProperties.  You will need to modify some of these properties values to actually submit a job to Slurm.  Let's examine the AdditionalProperties:

>> c.AdditionalProperties
ans = 
  AdditionalProperties with properties:
                 AccountName: ''
        AdditionalSubmitArgs: ''
                 ClusterHost: ''
                 ClusterName: 'smp'
                EmailAddress: ''
                 EnableDebug: 0
                     Feature: ''
                 GpusPerNode: 0
                    MemUsage: ''
                       Nodes: 0 # Was NumNodes
                ProcsPerNode: 0
                   Partition: '' # Was QueueName 
    RemoteJobStorageLocation: '/ihome/pgivi/shs159/MdcsDataLocation/h2p/Shervins-MBP.fios-router.home/R2022a/remote'
                 Reservation: ''
             # UseIdentityFile Removed
                     UseSmpd: 0
                    Username: 'shs159'
                    WallTime: ''


As you can see, when you first create the cluster object, many of the properties do not have values.  As a minimum, set values for Nodes (Default is 1)ProcsPerNode (Default is 1), ClusterName (must be specified), and WallTime (must be specified).  Optionally, you can set the EmailAddressPartition, and AdditionalSubmitArgs.  The AdditionalSubmitArgs is used for passing any additional options to the Slurm sbatch command.   




The examples below show how to use MATLAB Parallel Server to run serial (single CPU) jobs, multi-processor jobs on a single machine, and distributed parallel jobs running on multiple nodes.  If you'd like to download MATLAB scripts used in the examples, they are available here:

In the first example, we will run a simple MATLAB job that uses a single processor.  This program isn't parallelized, but we can still execute the job on the cluster.   We'll begin by creating a MATLAB script called mywave.m simply calculates a million points on a sine wave in a for loop. The file mywave.m has been created in our current MATLAB folder.  The function is pretty simple:

%--  mywave.m --%
for i = 1:1000000
    A(i) = sin(i*2*pi/102400);


When you run this following commands in MATLAB, it should prompt you for your password for logging in to the cluster. Answer “No” to the question and then enter your Pitt password in the following window. MATLAB caches your password during this session so you don't have to enter your again for submitting other jobs during the same MATLAB session.

>> c = parcluster;
>> c.AdditionalProperties.ClusterName = 'smp';
>> c.AdditionalProperties.WallTime='1-10:00:00'; %% 1 day and 10 hours wall-time. 
>> myjob = batch(c,'mywave','AutoAddClientPath',false);
additionalSubmitArgs =
'--ntasks=1 --cpus-per-task=1 --ntasks-per-core=1 --cluster smp'



Then, you can monitor and retrieve data: 

>> myjob.State
ans =
>> myjob.fetchOutputs
ans =
1×1 cell array
{1×1 struct}
>> myjob.load # this command loads all variables from the finished job
>> plot(A)


Example 2:  Parallel job on a single node

In the next example, we will run a parallel job using 8 processors on a single node.  We will be using a parallelized version of mywave.m called par_wave.m that uses the parfor statement to parallelize the previous for loop:

%--  parallel_mywave --%

% A parfor loop will use parallel workers if available.
parfor i = 1:10000000
    A(i) = sin(i*2*pi/2500000);

The parfor command will use a pool of workers to execute the loop in parallel if a worker pool exists.  You can learn more about the use of parfor loops here:

Now we'll submit the job to the smp cluster, high-mem partition. Note that the batch command has changed significantly by adding a pool for 7+1 workers.  Note that these jobs will always request N+1 CPU cores, since one worker is required to manage the batch job and pool of workers. For example, a job that needs seven workers will consume eight CPU cores. 

>> c.AdditionalProperties.ClusterName = 'smp';

>> c.AdditionalProperties.Partition = 'high-mem'; # Was QueueName

>> myjob = batch(c,'par_wave','AutoAddClientPath',false,'Pool', 7);



Example 3:  Parallel job on multiple nodes

In the next example, we will run a parallel job using 39+1 processors on two nodes.  We will be using the same par_wave.m script from Example 2.

>> c.AdditionalProperties.ClusterName = 'mpi';
>> c.AdditionalProperties.Partition = 'mpi'; # Was QueueName
>> c.AdditionalProperties.WallTime='01:00:00'; %% 1 hour wall-time.
>> myjob = batch(c,'par_wave','AutoAddClientPath',false,'Pool', 39);
additionalSubmitArgs =
    '--ntasks=40 --cpus-per-task=1 --ntasks-per-core=1 --cluster mpi -p mpi'

The above script submits 'par_wave'  to the mpi cluster, mpi partition with the total of 39+1 workers.

>> myjob.State
ans =
>> myjob.diary
--- Start Diary ---
Elapsed time is 1.297303 seconds.
--- End Diary ---




Q: My job's .State value is 'failed'. How can I find more information?

A: If a job produces an error, you can call the getDebugLog method to view the error log file.  When submitting independent jobs, with multiple tasks, specify the task number.

%Load parcluster

>> c = parcluster

c = 

 Generic Cluster


                   Profile: h2p R2021a
                  Modified: false
                      Host: LAPTOP-H53N4LSB
                NumWorkers: 100000
                NumThreads: 1

        JobStorageLocation: C:\Users\Nicko\AppData\Local\Temp\Nicko\MdcsDataLocation\h2p\LAPTOP-H53N4LSB\R2021a\remote
         ClusterMatlabRoot: /ihome/crc/install/matlab/R2021a
           OperatingSystem: unix

   RequiresOnlineLicensing: false
     PluginScriptsLocation: C:\Users\Nicko\Downloads\matlab-parallel-server\Pitt.nonshared.R2021...
      AdditionalProperties: List properties

    Associated Jobs: 

            Number Pending: 0
             Number Queued: 1
            Number Running: 0
           Number Finished: 3

%Take a look at your jobs

>> c.findJob

ans = 

 4x1 Job array:
         ID           Type        State              FinishDateTime  Username  Tasks
    1     1    independent       failed                                 Nicko      1
    2     2    independent       failed                                 Nicko      1
    3     3    independent       queued                                 Nicko      1
    4     4    independent       failed                                 Nicko      1

%Create a variable for the job you want to view debug output for

>> j = c.findJob('ID',1)

j = 



                   ID: 1
                 Type: independent
             Username: Nicko
                State: failed
       SubmitDateTime: 14-Apr-2022 10:32:35
     Running Duration: 0 days 0h 0m 0s
           NumThreads: 1

      AutoAttachFiles: true
  Auto Attached Files: List files
        AttachedFiles: {}
    AutoAddClientPath: false
      AdditionalPaths: {}
 EnvironmentVariables: {}

    Associated Tasks: 

       Number Pending: 0
       Number Running: 0
      Number Finished: 1
    Task ID of Errors: []
  Task ID of Warnings: []
   Task Scheduler IDs: 5707953

% View the debug output for the set of tasks being performed by the job.

>> c.getDebugLog(j.Tasks)
Executing: /ihome/crc/install/matlab/R2021a/bin/worker 
License checkout failed.
License Manager Error -5
Cannot find a license for MATLAB_Distrib_Comp_Engine.

Troubleshoot this issue by visiting:

Diagnostic Information:
Feature: MATLAB_Distrib_Comp_Engine 
License path: /ihome/sam/nlc60/.matlab/R2021a_licenses:/ihome/crc/install/matlab/R2021a/licenses/license.dat:/ihom
Licensing error: -5,147.======END LICENSE MANAGER ERROR======

Exiting with code: 1


2- If I lose my VPN connection or put my local machine in sleep mode, can I still retrieve my jobs?

Yes, this is as simple as calling parcluster again. 

>> c=parcluster
c = 
 Generic Cluster
                   Profile: h2p R2021a
                  Modified: false
                      Host: localhost
                NumWorkers: 100000
                NumThreads: 1
        JobStorageLocation: /Users/shervin.sammak/MdcsDataLocation/h2p/Shervins-MBP.fios-router.home/R2021a/remote
         ClusterMatlabRoot: /ihome/crc/install/matlab/R2021a
           OperatingSystem: unix
   RequiresOnlineLicensing: false
     PluginScriptsLocation: /Users/shervin.sammak/Documents/MATLAB/IntegrationScripts/h2p
      AdditionalProperties: List properties
    Associated Jobs: 
            Number Pending: 0
             Number Queued: 0
            Number Running: 1
           Number Finished: 2
 3x1 Job array: 
         ID           Type        State              FinishDateTime        Username  Tasks
    1     2    independent      running                              shervin.sammak      1
    2     3           pool     finished        16-Aug-2021 09:18:04  shervin.sammak     40
    3     4           pool     finished        16-Aug-2021 09:18:31  shervin.sammak      9


Q: If my MATLAB script has created a file on the cluster, do I need to manually copy the file back onto my local machine?

A: Yes, here's an example which plots a sine function and create a plot called

% Plot the sine wave
disp('This script plots the sine wave');
x = -pi:.1:pi;
y = sin(x);
p = plot(x,y)
xlabel('-\pi \leq \Theta \leq \pi')
title('Plot of sin(\Theta)')
% \Theta appears as a Greek symbol (see String)
% Annotate the point (-pi/4, sin(-pi/4))
text(-pi/4,sin(-pi/4),'\leftarrow sin(-\pi\div4)','HorizontalAlignment','left')
% Change the line color to red and
% set the line width to 2 points
disp('Now outputing plot to');
print -deps;

This is the command to submit the job to the cluster:

myjob2 = batch(c,'plot_sine','AutoAddClientPath' ,false, 'CurrentFolder', './test');
additionalSubmitArgs =
'--ntasks=1 --cpus-per-task=1 --ntasks-per-core=1 --cluster smp -p smp'

The above script submit the plot_sine job to the smp cluster, partition smp where the the figure will be saved in /ihome/<your group>/<your Pitt username>/test.

>> myjob2.diary
Warning: The diary of this batch job might be incomplete because the job is still running.
--- Start Diary ---
This script plots the sine wave
p =
Line with properties:
Color: [0 0.4470 0.7410]
LineStyle: '-'
LineWidth: 0.5000
Marker: 'none'
MarkerSize: 6
MarkerFaceColor: 'none'
XData: [1x63 double]
YData: [1x63 double]
ZData: [1x0 double]
Use GET to show all properties
Now outputing plot to
--- End Diary ---



Q: Where are metadata files stored on my local machine?

The cluster object has a field called JobStorageLocation that defines this:

JobStorageLocation: C:\Users\Nicko\AppData\Roaming\MathWorks\MATLAB\3p_cluster_jobs\h2p\LAPTOP-H53N4LSB\R2022a\nonshared

You can also access the metada on the cluster with the cluster.AdditionalProperties.RemoteJobStorageLocation field:

RemoteJobStorageLocation: '/ihome/sam/nlc60/.matlab/3p_cluster_jobs/h2p/LAPTOP-H53N4LSB/R2022a/nonshared'

Please note that if you run configCluster again, all metadata will be lost on your local machine.


Q: I was disconnected from the VPN, and now my job submissions are failing. How do I fix this?

Warning: Failed to remove the remote
files for job 8. You may need to delete
the job files from
manually. Reason:
Failed to execute command on remote
> In parallel.cluster/RemoteClusterAccess/startMirrorForJob (line 625)
In communicatingSubmitFcn (line 175)
In parallel.cluster/Generic/submitJobCommon (line 689)
In parallel.cluster/Generic/hSubmitCommunicatingJob (line 533)
In parallel.internal.cluster/CJSJobMixin/submitOneJobCommon (line 66)
In parallel.job/CJSCommunicatingJob/submitOneJob (line 88)
In parallel/Job/submit (line 404)
In parallel.internal.cluster/BatchHelper2/doBatch (line 48)
In parallel.Cluster/batch (line 155) 
Error using parallel.Cluster/batch
Job submission failed because the plugin
function 'communicatingSubmitFcn.m'

Caused by:
    Error using
        Failed to start mirror for job
    with ID 8.
        Error using
                Failed to execute
        command on remote host.

A: The command is failing on the remote host because you need to re authorize your connection with your username and password.

Restablish your cluster object with the parcluster command, and then submit.