[Rd] An idea: Extend mclapply's mc.set.seed with an initial seed value?

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Fri Nov 2 16:39:29 CET 2012

On Fri, 2 Nov 2012, Paul Gilbert wrote:

> I appreciate your problem, and getting reproducible random generator results 
> on a parallel system is something to be careful about. However, I would avoid 
> making it too easy to have a fixed seed. In earlier days there were mistakes 
> too often made by users inadvertently using the same seed over and over again 
> (on simple single processor systems), for example, by reloading a session 
> with the seed set.

But R already makes what I take to be the wish really easy:


sets the same seed on each child.

And the other option, mc.set.seed = TRUE, makes it easy to have 
reproducibly different seeds on each child.  See 
?parallel::mcparallel .

> Paul
> On 12-11-01 08:46 PM, Ivan Popivanov wrote:
>> Hello,
>> Have been thinking that sometimes users may want each process to initialize
>> its random seed with a specific value rather then the current seed. This
>> could be keyed off depending whether mc.set.seed is logical, preserving the
>> current behaviour, or numerical, using the value in a call to set.seed.
>> Does this make sense?
>> If you wonder how I came up with the idea: I spent a couple of hours
>> debugging "unstable" results from parallel tuning of svms, which was caused
>> by the parallel execution. In my case I can simply do the set.seed in the
>> FUN argument function, but that may not be always the case.
>> Ivan

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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