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Running Long Jobs

The mathematics department's computers are a shared resource—lots of people need to use the machines for classes, for homework, and for research. It's important to play fair and not attempt to monopolize the department's limited resources.

If you must run a computationally intensive job on one or more of the department's machines, please observe the following protocol:

  1. Get a faculty sponsor. Find a faculty member who can write you a letter that lays out your needs so that we know your research is officially supported and so that we have an additional person to contact if there are any problems with your jobs.
  2. Before running a job, send mail to if you plan to leave a program running after you log out. If your job doesn't interfere with another user's use of that workstation, we'll probably leave it running even if it's drawn to our attention.
  3. Use the nice command to lower the priority of your job so that your job doesn't bog down the machine (type man nice for more information). Your program will take longer to run, but it's less likely to disrupt other users' sessions enough that they'll complain and cause us to terminate your job.
  4. Any job that disrupts the next user's session significantly will be killed without notice. Repeated instances may lead to your account privileges being curtailed or eliminated.
  5. Where possible, you should write long-running programs so that they can be killed and restarted without losing all of the work that's already been done. Generally that process involves periodically writing results to a file that can be read back in by the program on a later launch.
  6. Choose a descriptive name for your program. A program with a name such as “senior-thesis-project” is less likely to be killed outright than one called “a.out” or “hw10” or “star-wars-forever”.

Your consideration for your fellow students and faculty is appreciated.

See Also

See the policy on running servers for more information.