A map-reduce method to iterate blocks of file-array data with little memory usage

mapreduce(x, map, reduce, ...)

# S4 method for FileArray,ANY,`function`
mapreduce(x, map, reduce, buffer_size = NA, ...)

# S4 method for FileArray,ANY,`NULL`
mapreduce(x, map, reduce, buffer_size = NA, ...)

# S4 method for FileArray,ANY,missing
mapreduce(x, map, reduce, buffer_size = NA, ...)



a file array object


mapping function that receives 3 arguments; see 'Details'


NULL, or a function that takes a list as input


passed to other methods


control how we split the array; see 'Details'


If reduce is NULL, return mapped results, otherwise return reduced results from reduce function


When handling out-of-memory arrays, it is recommended to load a block of array at a time and execute on block level. See apply for a implementation. When an array is too large, and when there are too many blocks, this operation will become very slow if computer memory is low. This is because the R will perform garbage collection frequently. Implemented in C++, mapreduce creates a buffer to store the block data. By reusing the memory over and over again, it is possible to iterate through the array with minimal garbage collections. Many statistics, including min, max, sum, mean, ... These statistics can be calculated in this way efficiently.

The function map contains three arguments: data (mandate), size (optional), and first_index (optional). The data is the buffer, whose length is consistent across iterations. size indicates the effective size of the buffer. If the partition size is not divisible by the buffer size, only first size elements of the data are from array, and the rest elements will be NA. This situation could only occurs when buffer_size is manually specified. By default, all of data should belong to arrays. The last argument first_index is the index of the first element data[1] in the whole array. It is useful when positional data is needed.

The buffer size, specified by buffer_size is an additional optional argument in .... Its default is NA, and will be calculated automatically. If manually specified, a large buffer size would be desired to speed up the calculation. The default buffer size will not exceed \(nThreads x 2MB\), where nThreads is the number of threads set by filearray_threads. When partition length cannot be divided by the buffer size, instead of trimming the buffer, NAs will be filled to the buffer, passed to map function; see previous paragraph for treatments.

The function mapreduce ignores the missing partitions. That means if a partition is missing, its data will not be read nor passed to map function. Please run x$initialize_partition() to make sure partition files exist.


x <- filearray_create(tempfile(), c(100, 100, 10))
x[] <- rnorm(1e5)

## calculate summation
# identical to sum(x[]), but is more feasible in large cases

mapreduce(x, map = function(data, size){
    # make sure `data` is all from array
    if(length(data) != size){
        data <- data[1:size]
}, reduce = function(mapped_list){
    do.call(sum, mapped_list)
#> [1] -57.8865

## Find elements are less than -3
positions <- mapreduce(
    map = function(data, size, first_index) {
        if (length(data) != size) {
            data <- data[1:size]
        which(data < -3) + (first_index - 1)
    reduce = function(mapped_list) {
        do.call(c, mapped_list)

#> [1] -3.007064