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I'm working in some web scraping using Mathematica, and today, to speed-up the process, I used bash commands (xargs with parallel options with curl and wget) using ReadList or Run. I would like to do all this inside Mathematica, but I miss multi-thread capability with asynchronous evaluation. I could use more cores, but it's not the answer because the lag is due to time lag, not lack of processor capacity.

In bash I can do things like:

cat url.txt | xargs - n1 - P20 wget

Even with 4 cores it distribute the download process in 20 processes.

In Mathematica I can do this:

data = ParallelMap[Import,urlList]

But you get limited to cores number.

I thought that it would be natural to be multi-threaded if Mathematica is able to use multiple cores. Any clues?

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Did you try LaunchKernels[n]? – Dr. belisarius Oct 3 '12 at 13:01
I think at some point one has to accept that Mathematica is not the best tool for every possible job. Here's an idea, though: why not take the source code of wget or aria2, patch it, and compile it as a MathLink executable or a "Wolfram Library" for use with LibraryLink? – Oleksandr R. Oct 3 '12 at 14:11
Hi Belisairus. Great tip!.. I'll make some tests and put what I get. It appears to works. – Murta Oct 3 '12 at 14:27
@OleksandrR. interesting idea. I'm wondering how nightmarish that would be ... Obviously, the functionality could be mapped to options/arguments, not simple, but it may be doable. – rcollyer Oct 3 '12 at 14:31
@OleksandrR. seems easier to just call them via the command line from mathematica... – acl Dec 8 '12 at 17:31
up vote 11 down vote accepted

In Mathematica 9, you can now use URLFetchAsynchronous and URLSaveAsynchronous. These perform the HTTP request asynchronously in threads.

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And you can keep track of how many threads you are using with Length@AsynchronousTasks[] – Gustavo Delfino Dec 8 '12 at 16:08

tks @belisarius! There is the improved code.

CloseKernels[]; LaunchKernels[16];

My mistake was to think that the number of kernels was limited by the number of cores.

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