How to set prefdir for parpool workers?

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I am running parpool jobs with 10 workers under 2016b on my Mac (Mac Pro “Twelve Core”; 3.06 GHz 6 Core Xeon X5675 x2).
Initial jobs run without error. Over time, however, workers begin to fail with the error:
Error using prefutils>loadPrefs (line 42)
Unable to read MAT-file /Users/myname/Library/Application
Support/MathWorks/MATLAB/R2016b/matlabprefs.mat. File might be corrupt.
After some searching, I found these links. They advise changing the Matlab prefdir prior to starting a parpool job so as to avoid write conflicts within the prefs file:
This advice, however, seems to regard the situation in which multiple parpools are running concurrently.
More generally, I am unable to determine how I would arrange for each worker in a parpool to start with its own, separate prefdir, and if this is even needed to fix the error that I am encountering.
Thanks for any help.

Accepted Answer

Faiz Gouri
Faiz Gouri on 21 Jul 2017
This error occurs when multiple MATLAB workers attempt to access the matlabprefs.mat file simultaneously. Here is a sample code to reproduce this issue:
function parTest
if matlabpool('size')==0
matlabpool('open');
end
parfor i=1:10
pause(randn(1));
setpref('parTest','test','test');
end %parfor
end %function parTest
To avoid this problem, set preferences using "pctRunOnAll" , before the parfor loop.
function parTest
if matlabpool('size')==0
matlabpool('open');
end
pctRunOnAll setpref('parTest','test','test');
parfor i=1:10
...parfor statements go here...
end
end %function parTest
Alternatively, the problem can be avoided by increasing the pause time from "pause(randn(1))" to "pause(randn(i/100))" , where 'i' is the parfor counter variable.

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