How to abort or stop this (accidently large defined) SparseArray production?

s = N[SparseArray[Table[{2^i, 4} -> i, {i, 30}]]]  

Alt+. or Alt+, seem to give up. Even your Windows task manager is struggling.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Evaluation->Quit Kernel -> Local often succeeds where Abort Evaluation fails for me. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 16:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related: Do you really want to quit the kernel? Yes!, How to automate a FrontEnd return?. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ Concerning the Task Manager statement: Although the TM struggles, and can take a minute or two to respond, I find that patience pays off: navigate to the [Processes] tab, right-click on the instance of Mathkernel.exe that is hogging all the RAM, and choose "end process." Each step can require a painfully long wait, but in the end it does work. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 19:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Another related question: mathematica.stackexchange.com/q/2789/5 $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


Could use $Pre to wrap things in MemoryConstrained. I'll illustrate with an unusually tight constraint.

SetAttributes[memcon, HoldAll]
memcon[new_] := MemoryConstrained[new, 10^4]
$Pre = memcon;



(* Out[4]= $Aborted *)

s = N[SparseArray[Table[{2^i, 4} -> i, {i, 20}]]]

(* Out[5]= $Aborted *)
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you don't preclude the use of $Pre as I did in my earlier question this is an excellent method. I recommend it to anyone using version 7 or earlier. Belisarius gives a nice method for v8+ in the linked thread that does not tie up $Pre. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ Another question would be: why does this fill up the memory at all? The array is very sparse with only a few elements. Is there a limit on the size of SparseArrays that's exceeded here? $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Szabolcs InputForm[SparseArray[Table[{2^i, 4} -> i, {i, 5}]]] seems to show a dense 1-d listwith the jth element indicating how many nontrivial elements have been seen prior to row j. That at least is my guess. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 22:42

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