Software fails, Hardware fails, network connections fail, user code fails. This document describes how distributed responds in the face of these failures and other known bugs.

User code failures

When a function raises an error that error is kept and transmitted to the executor on request. Any attempt to gather that result or any dependent result will raise that exception.

>>> def div(a, b):
...     return a / b

>>> x = executor.submit(div, 1, 0)
>>> x.result()
ZeroDivisionError: division by zero

>>> y = executor.submit(add, x, 10)
>>> y.result()  # same error as above
ZeroDivisionError: division by zero

This does not affect the smooth operation of the scheduler or worker in any way.

Closed Network Connections

If the connection to a remote worker unexpectedly closes and the local process appropriately raises an IOError then the scheduler will reroute all pending computations to other workers.

If the lost worker was the only worker to hold vital results necessary for future computations then those results will be recomputed by surviving workers. The scheduler maintains a full history of how each result was produced and so is able to reproduce those same computations on other workers.

This has some fail cases.

  1. If results depend on impure functions then you may get a different (although still entirely accurate) result
  2. If the worker failed due to a bad function, for example a function that causes a segmentation fault, then that bad function will repeatedly be called on other workers, and proceed to kill the distributed system, one worker at a time.
  3. Data ``scatter``ed out to the workers is not kept in the scheduler (it is often quite large) and so the loss of this data is irreparable.

Hardware Failures

It is not clear under which circumstances the local process will know that the remote worker has closed the connection. If the socket does not close cleanly then the system will wait for a timeout, roughly three seconds, before marking the worker as failed and resuming smooth operation.

Scheduler Failure

The process containing the scheduler might die. There is currently no persistence mechanism to record and recover the scheduler state. The data will remain on the cluster until cleared.

Restart and Nanny Processes

The executor provides a mechanism to restart all of the workers in the cluster. This is convenient if, during the course of experimentation, you find your workers in an inconvenient state that makes them unresponsive. The Executor.restart method does the following process:

  1. Sends a soft shutdown signal to all of the coroutines watching workers
  2. Sends a hard kill signal to each worker’s Nanny process, which oversees that worker. This Nanny process terminates the worker process ungracefully and unregisters that worker from the Scheduler.
  3. Clears out all scheduler state and sets all Future’s status to 'cancelled'
  4. Sends a restart signal to all Nanny processes, which in turn restart clean Worker processes and register these workers with the Scheduler. New workers may not have the same port as their previous iterations. The .nannies dictionary on the Executor serves as an accurate set of aliases if necessary.
  5. Restarts the scheduler, with clean and empty state

This effectively removes all data and clears out all computations from the scheduler. Any data or computations not saved to persistent storage are lost. This process is very robust to a number of failure modes, including non-responsive or swamped workers but not including full hardware failures.

Currently the user may experience a few error logging messages from Tornado upon closing their session. These can safely be ignored.