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Create distributed array from data in the client workspace or a datastore



D = distributed(ds) creates a distributed array from a datastore ds. D is a distributed array stored in parts on the workers of the open parallel pool. You operate on the entire array as a single entity; however, workers operate only on their part of the array and automatically transfer data between themselves when necessary.

To retrieve the distributed array elements from the pool back to an array in the MATLAB® workspace, use gather.


D = distributed(X) creates a distributed array from an array X.

Constructing a distributed array from local data this way is appropriate only if the MATLAB client can store the entirety of X in its memory. To construct large distributed arrays, use the previous syntax to create a distributed array from a datastore, or use one of the array creation functions such as ones(___,"distributed"), zeros(___,"distributed"), etc. For a list of functions that can create distributed arrays directly, see distributed.

If the input argument is already a distributed array, the result is the same as the input.


D = distributed(C,dim) creates a distributed array from a Composite array C, with the entries of C concatenated and distributed along the dimension dim. If you omit dim, then the first dimension is the distribution dimension.

All entries of the Composite array must have the same class. Dimensions other than the distribution dimension must match.


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This example shows how to create and retrieve distributed arrays.

Create a small array and distribute it.

Nsmall = 50;
D1 = distributed(magic(Nsmall));
Starting parallel pool (parpool) using the 'Processes' profile ... connected to 4 workers.

Create a large distributed array directly, using a build method.

Nlarge = 1000;
D2 = rand(Nlarge,"distributed");

Retrieve elements of a distributed array back to the local workspace. You can use whos to determine where data in the workspace is located by examining the Class variable.

D3 = gather(D2);
Name           Size                Bytes  Class                      Attributes

  D1            50x50                20000  distributed                          
  D2          1000x1000            8000000  distributed                          
  D3          1000x1000            8000000  double                                                          
  Nlarge         1x1                     8  double                               
  Nsmall         1x1                     8  double  

This example shows how to create and load distributed arrays using datastore.

First create a datastore using an example data set. This data set is too small to show equal partitioning of the data over the workers. To simulate a large data set, artificially increase the size of the datastore using repmat.

files = repmat("airlinesmall.csv", 10, 1);
ds = tabularTextDatastore(files);

Select the example variables.

ds.SelectedVariableNames = ["DepTime", "DepDelay"];
ds.TreatAsMissing = "NA";

Create a distributed table by reading the datastore in parallel. Partition the datastore with one partition per worker. Each worker then reads all data from the corresponding partition. The files must be in a shared location accessible from the workers.

dt = distributed(ds);
Starting parallel pool (parpool) using the 'Processes' profile ... connected to 4 workers.

Finally, display summary information about the distributed table.


    DepTime: 1,235,230×1 double

            min          1
            max       2505
            NaNs    23,510

    DepDelay: 1,235,230×1 double

            min      -1036
            max       1438
            NaNs    23,510

Start a parallel pool of workers and create a Composite array by using spmd.

p = parpool('Processes',4);
Starting parallel pool (parpool) using the 'Processes' profile ...
Connected to the parallel pool (number of workers: 4).
    C = rand(3,spmdIndex-1);
C =
   Worker 1: class = double, size = [3  0]
   Worker 2: class = double, size = [3  1]
   Worker 3: class = double, size = [3  2]
   Worker 4: class = double, size = [3  3]

To create a distributed array out of the Composite array, use the distributed function. For this example, distribute the entries along the second dimension.

d = distributed(C,2)
d =

    0.6383    0.9730    0.2934    0.3241    0.9401    0.1897
    0.5195    0.7104    0.1558    0.0078    0.3231    0.3685
    0.1398    0.3614    0.3421    0.9383    0.3569    0.5250

When you are finished with the computations, delete the parallel pool.


Input Arguments

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Datastore for a collection of data, specified as one of the following:

Type Output
Text filesTabularTextDatastore
Image filesImageDatastore
Spreadsheet filesSpreadsheetDatastore
MAT-files or Sequence files produced by mapreduceKeyValueDatastore
Custom format filesFileDatastore
MAT-files or Sequence files produced by the write function of the tall data type. TallDatastore
Parquet FilesParquetDatastore
DatabaseDatabaseDatastore (Database Toolbox)

Array to distribute, specified as an array.

Composite array to distribute, specified as a Composite array.

Distribution dimension, specified as a scalar integer. The distribution dimension specifies the dimension over which you want to distribute the Composite array.

Output Arguments

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Distributed array stored in parts on the workers of the open parallel pool, returned as a distributed array.


  • A distributed array is created on the workers of the existing parallel pool. If no pool exists, distributed starts a new parallel pool unless the automatic starting of pools is disabled in your parallel preferences. If there is no parallel pool and distributed cannot start one, MATLAB returns the result as a non-distributed array in the client workspace.

Version History

Introduced in R2008a