Skip to content


Repository files navigation

CRAN check status R CMD check status Coverage Status

doFuture: Use Foreach to Parallelize via the Future Framework


The future package provides a generic API for using futures in R. A future is a simple yet powerful mechanism to evaluate an R expression and retrieve its value at some point in time. Futures can be resolved in many different ways depending on which strategy is used. There are various types of synchronous and asynchronous futures to choose from in the future package. Additional future backends are implemented in other packages. For instance, the future.batchtools package provides futures for any type of backend that the batchtools package supports. For an introduction to futures in R, please consult the vignettes of the future package.

The foreach package implements a map-reduce API with functions foreach() and times() that provides us with powerful methods for iterating over one or more sets of elements with the option to do it in parallel.

Two alternatives

The doFuture package provides two alternatives for using futures with foreach:

  1. y <- foreach(...) %dofuture% { ... }

  2. registerDoFuture() + y <- foreach(...) %dopar% { ... }.

Alternative 1: %dofuture%

The first alternative (recommended), which uses %dofuture%, avoids having to use registerDoFuture(). The %dofuture% operator provides a more consistent behavior than %dopar%, e.g. there is a unique set of foreach arguments instead of one per possible adapter. Identification of globals, random number generation (RNG), and error handling is handled by the future ecosystem, just like with other map-reduce solutions such as future.apply and furrr. An example is:


y <- foreach(x = 1:4, y = 1:10) %dofuture% {
  z <- x + y

This alternative is the recommended way to let foreach() parallelize via the future framework, especially if you start out from scratch.

See help("%dofuture%", package = "doFuture") for more details and examples on this approach.

Alternative 2: registerDoFuture() + %dopar%

The second alternative is based on the traditional foreach approach where one registers a foreach adapter to be used by %dopar%. A popular adapter is doParallel::registerDoParallel(), which parallelizes on the local machine using the parallel package. This package provides registerDoFuture(), which parallelizes using the future package, meaning any future-compliant parallel backend can be used.

An example is:


y <- foreach(x = 1:4, y = 1:10) %dopar% {
  z <- x + y

This alternative is useful if you already have a lot of R code that uses %dopar% and you just want to switch to using the future framework for parallelization. Using registerDoFuture() is also useful when you wish to use the future framework with packages and functions that uses foreach() and %dopar% internally, e.g. caret, plyr, NMF, and glmnet. It can also be used to configure the Bioconductor BiocParallel package, and any package that rely on it, to parallelize via the future framework.

See help("registerDoFuture", package = "doFuture") for more details and examples on this approach.


R package doFuture is available on CRAN and can be installed in R as:


Pre-release version

To install the pre-release version that is available in Git branch develop on GitHub, use:

remotes::install_github("HenrikBengtsson/doFuture", ref="develop")

This will install the package from source.


To contribute to this package, please see