The motivation for the pyiron_base workflow manager is to provide a self-consistent environment for the development of simulation protocols. Many pyiron_base users previously used the command line to manage their simulation protocols and construct parameter studies. Still based on the limitations in coupling command line approaches to machine learning models, pyiron_base is based on the Python programming language, and it is recommended to use the pyiro_base workflow manager in combination with Jupyter Lab for maximum efficiency. Consequently, the first challenge is guiding users who used the command line before and now switch to using only Jupyter notebooks.

The three most fundamental objects to learn when interacting with the pyiron_base workflow manager are jupyter notebooks, pyiron_base Project objects and pyiron_base Job objects. These are introduced below.

Jupyter Lab

By default, Jupyter notebooks consist of three types of cells: <code> cells, <raw> cells and <markdown> cells. To execute python code, select the <code> cells. These cells can then be executed using <enter> + <shift>. While it is technically possible to execute cells in Jupyter notebooks in arbitrary order, for reproducibility it is recommended to execute the individual cells in order.

To learn more about Jupyter notebooks, checkout the Jupyter notebook documentation.

To start a jupyter lab in a given directory call the jupyter lab command:

jupyter lab

This opens a jupyter lab session in your web browser, typically on port 8888.

Alternatively, the pyiron_base workflow manager can also be executed in a regular python shell or python script, still for most users the jupyter lab environment offers more flexibility and simplifies the development and documentation of simulation workflows.


To encourage rapid prototyping the pyiron_base workflow manager requires just a single import statement. So to start using pyiron_base import the Project class:

from pyiron_base import Project

The Project class represents a folder on the file system. Instead of hiding all calculation in an abstract database the pyiron_base workflow manager leverages the file system to store results of calculation. To initialize a Project object instance just provide a folder name. This folder is then created right next to the Jupyter notebook.

pr = Project(path="demonstration")

The project object instance is the central object of the pyiron_base workflow manager. All other object instances are created from the project object instance. To get the full path of the project object instance is using the path property:


To accelerate the development of simulation protocols the pyiron_base workflow manager benefits from the <tab> based autocompletion. If you type pr.p and press <tab> the jupyter notebook environment automatically completes your entry.

In addition to the representation of the project object instance as a folder on the file system, the project object instance is also connected to the SQL database. Using the job_table() function the job objects in a given project are listed. By default, the pyiron_base workflow manager uses the SQL database for quickly generating a list of all job objects. Still the pyiron_base workflow manager can also be installed without an SQL database. In that case the job_table() function generates a list of job objects by iterating over the file system.


When the project was just started, the job table is expected to be an empty pandas.DataFrame. To get an overview of all the parameters of the job_table() function the jupyter lab environment provides the question mark parameter to look up the documentation:


Furthermore, with two question marks it is also possible to take a look at the source code of a given python function:


In the same way the job_table() function can be used to get a list of all job objects in a Project object instance the remove_jobs() function can be used to delete all job objects in a project.


In many cases it is also useful to just remove a single job object using the remove_job() function. This is introduced below once the job objects are introduced in the section below.


The job object class is the second building block of the pyiron_base workflow manager. In your parameter study each unique combination of a set of parameters is represented as a single job object. In the most typical cases this can be either the call of a python function or the call of an external executable, still also the aggregation of results in a pyiron table is represented as job object. The advantage of representing all these different tasks as job objects is that the job objects can be submitted to the queuing system to distribute the individual tasks over the computing resources of an HPC cluster.

Python Function

For python functions which run several minutes or hours, it is essential to have a workflow manager. The pyiron_base workflow manager addresses this challenge by storing the input and output of each python function call in an HDF5 file, which has the advantage that each function call can also be submitted to the queuing system of an HPC cluster. In case your function only requires a run time of several seconds or minutes it is recommended to combine multiple function calls in a larger function and then submit this function as a pyiron job to the HPC cluster. This can be achieved by using the concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor inside the function to distribute a number of function calls over the multiple CPU cores of the compute nodes. So the concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor is used for the task distribution inside the compute node and the pyiron_base workflow manager is used for the task distribution over multiple compute nodes and handling the submission to the queuing system.

In this example a very simple python function is used:

def test_function(a, b=8):
    return a+b

The run time for this function is far below a millisecond so is it not reasonable to submit it to a remote computing cluster. This is primarily a demonstration to highlight the capabilities of the pyiron_base workflow manager.

from pyiron_base import Project

pr = Project("test")
job = pr.wrap_python_function(test_function)
job.input["a"] = 4
job.input["b"] = 5

>>> 9

After the import of the Project class a Project instance is created connected to the folder test. Then the test_function() is wrapped as a job object. This allows the user to set the input using the job.input property of the job object. The individual input parameters can be accessed using the edge bracket notation, just like a python dictionary. Finally, when the job.run() function is called the job is executed. After the successful submission the output can be accessed via the job.output property.

To submit the function call to a remote HPC cluster the server object of the job object can be configured:

job.server.queue = "slurm"
job.server.cores = 120
job.server.run_time = 3600  # in seconds 

In this example the slurm queue was selected, a total of 120 CPU cores were selected and a run time of one hour was selected. Still it is important to mention, that assigning 120 CPU cores does not enable parallel execution of the python function. Only by implementing internal parallelization inside the python functions with solutions like concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor it is possible to parallelize the execution of python functions on a single compute node. Finally, the pyiron developers released the pympipool to enable parallelization of python functions as well as the direct assignment of GPU resources inside a given queuing system allocation over multiple compute nodes using the hierarchical queuing system flux.

External Executable

As many scientific simulation codes do not have Python bindings the pyiron_base workflow manager also supports the submission of external executables. In the pyiron_base workflow manager external executables are interfaces using three components, a write_input() function, a collect_output() function and finally an executable string which is executed after the input files were written. The write_input() function takes a input_dict dictionary and a working_directory as input parameters and writes the input files into the working directory.

import os 

def write_input(input_dict, working_directory="."):
    with open(os.path.join(working_directory, "input_file"), "w") as f:

In analogy the collect_output() function takes the working_directory as an input parameter and returns a dictionary of the output.

def collect_output(working_directory="."):
    with open(os.path.join(working_directory, "output_file"), "r") as f:
        return {"energy": float(f.readline())}

Once the write_input() and collect_output() function are defined the actual workflow is defined. Starting with the definition of the Project object instance, followed by creating the job class using the create_job_class() function.

In this example the cat command is used to copy the energy value from the input file to the output file. Again this is not a function which is typically submitted to a HPC cluster, it is primarily a demonstration how to implement how to create a job class based on an external executable plus a write_input() and collect_output() function.

from pyiron_base import Project

pr = Project(path="test")
    default_input_dict={"energy": 1.0},
    executable_str="cat input_file > output_file",
job = pr.create.job.CatJob(job_name="job_test")
job.input["energy"] = 2.0

>>> 2.0

In analogy to the job objects for python functions also the python functions for external executables can be submitted to the queuing system by configuring the same job.server property. Still it is important to update the executable string executable_str variable to use mpiexec or other means of parallelization to execute the external executable in parallel.

Jupyter Notebook

The third category of job objects the pyiron_base workflow manager supports are the ScriptJob which are used to submit Jupyter notebooks to the queuing system. While it is recommended to use the wrap_python_function() to wrap the python commands some users prefer to submit a whole Jupyter notebook at once. So the pyiron_base workflow manager introduces the ScriptJob job type:

from pyiron_base import Project
pr = Project(path="demo")
script = pr.create.job.ScriptJob(job_name="script")
script.script_path = "demo.ipynb"
script.input['my_variable'] = 5

The ScriptJob jobs take a jupyter notebook as an input script.script_path as well as a series of input parameters in the script.input. These input parameters can then be accessed in the jupyter notebook using the get_external_input() function. So an example demo.ipynb jupyter notebook could include the following code:

from pyiron_base import Project
pr = Project(path="script")
external_input = pr.get_external_input()
>>> {"my_variable": 5}


The third category of central objects in the pyiron_base workflow manager next to the project object and the job objects is the pyiron table object. While technically the pyiron table object is another job object, it is application is primarily to gather job objects in a given project. The pyiron table object follows the map-reduce.

The pyiron table object takes three kinds of inputs. The first is a filter function which is used to identify which jobs the following functions are applied on. The filter function is not mandatory still it is very helpful in particular when a large number of jobs are created in a given project.

def myfilter(job): 
    return "test_function" in job.job_name

The second part are the selection of functions which are applied on all job objects in a given project. Again it takes a job object as an input. Each job is going to be represented as a row in the pandas.DataFrame created by the pyiron job table and each function represents a column.

def len_job_name(job):
    return len(job.job_name)

The third part is a project the pyiron table is applied on. This is required to store the pyiron table in a different project compared to the project the job objects are located in. By default the analysis is applied on the project the pyiron table object is created in.

from pyiron_base import Project

pr = Project(path="demo")
table = pr.create_table()
table.filter_function = myfilter
table.add["len"] = len_job_name
# table.analysis_project = pr


After the definition of optional filter function and the functions as well as the analysis project the table is executed just like a job object. This means that the pyiron table can also be submitted to the queuing system for large map-reduce tasks. Finally, the pyiron table collects the results as a pandas.DataFrame so the results can be directly used in machine learning models or data analysis.