withTimeout

0th

Percentile

Evaluate an R expression and interrupts it if it takes too long

Evaluate an R expression and interrupts it if it takes too long.

Keywords
programming, IO
Usage
withTimeout(expr, substitute=TRUE, envir=parent.frame(), timeout, cpu=timeout,
  elapsed=timeout, onTimeout=c("error", "warning", "silent"), ...)
Arguments
expr

The R expression to be evaluated.

substitute

If TRUE, argument expr is substitute():ed, otherwise not.

envir

The environment in which the expression should be evaluated.

timeout, cpu, elapsed

A numeric specifying the maximum number of seconds the expression is allowed to run before being interrupted by the timeout. The cpu and elapsed arguments can be used to specify whether time should be measured in CPU time or in wall time.

onTimeout

A character specifying what action to take if a timeout event occurs.

...

Not used.

Details

This method utilizes setTimeLimit() by first setting the timeout limits, then evaluating the expression that may or may not timeout. The method is guaranteed to reset the timeout limits to be infinitely long upon exiting, regardless whether it returns normally or preemptively due to a timeout or an error.

Value

Returns the results of the expression evaluated. If timed out, NULL is returned if onTimeout was "warning" or "silent". If "error" a TimeoutException is thrown.

Non-supported cases

In order to understand when this function works and when it does not, it is useful to know that it utilizes R's built-in time-out mechanism, which sets the limits on what is possible and not. From setTimeLimit(), we learn that:

"Time limits are checked whenever a user interrupt could occur. This will happen frequently in R code and during Sys.sleep(*), but only at points in compiled C and Fortran code identified by the code author."

More precisely, if a function is implemented in native code (e.g. C) and the developer of that function does not check for user interrupts, then you cannot interrupt that function neither via a user interrupt (e.g. Ctrl-C) nor via the built-in time out mechanism. To change this, you need to contact the developer of that piece of code and ask them to check for R user interrupts in their native code.

Furthermore, it is not possible to interrupt/break out of a "readline" prompt (e.g. readline() and readLines()) using timeouts; the timeout exception will not be thrown until after the user completes the prompt (i.e. after pressing ENTER).

System calls via system() and system2() cannot be timed out via the above mechanisms. However, in R (>= 3.5.0) these functions have argument timeout providing their own independent timeout mechanism.

Other examples of calls that do not support timeout are "atomic" calls that may take very long such as large object allocation and rnorm(n) where n is very large.

(*) Note that on Unix and macOS, Sys.sleep(time) will signal a timeout error only after time seconds passed, regardless of timeout limit (< time).

References

[1] R help thread 'Time out for a R Function' on 2010-12-06. http://www.mail-archive.com/r-help@r-project.org/msg119344.html

See Also

Internally, eval() is used to evaluate the expression and setTimeLimit() is used to control for timeout events.

Aliases
  • withTimeout
  • evalWithTimeout
Examples
# NOT RUN {
# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
# Function that takes "a long" time to run
# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
foo <- function() {
  print("Tic")
  for (kk in 1:100) {
    print(kk)
    Sys.sleep(0.1)
  }
  print("Tac")
}


# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
# Evaluate code, if it takes too long, generate
# a timeout by throwing a TimeoutException.
# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
res <- NULL
tryCatch({
  res <- withTimeout({
    foo()
  }, timeout = 1.08)
}, TimeoutException = function(ex) {
  message("Timeout. Skipping.")
})


# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
# Evaluate code, if it takes too long, generate
# a timeout returning NULL and generate a warning.
# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
res <- withTimeout({
  foo()
}, timeout = 1.08, onTimeout = "warning")


# The same using an expression object
expr <- quote(foo())
res <- withTimeout(expr, substitute = FALSE,
                   timeout = 1.08, onTimeout = "warning")


# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
# Evaluate code, if it takes too long, generate
# a timeout, and return silently NULL.
# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
res <- withTimeout({
  foo()
}, timeout = 1.08, onTimeout = "silent")
# }
Documentation reproduced from package R.utils, version 2.8.0, License: LGPL (>= 2.1)

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