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About r : How-to-retry-a-statement-on-error

Question Detail

How can I simply tell R to retry a statement a few times if it errors? E.g. I was hoping to do something like:

tryCatch(dbGetQuery(...),           # Query database
    error = function(e) {
        if (is.locking.error(e))    # If database is momentarily locked
            retry(times = 3)        # retry dbGetQuery(...) 3 more times
        else {
            # Handle other errors
        }
    }
)

Question Answer

I usually put the try block in a loop,
and exit the loop when it no longer fails or the maximum number of attempts is reached.

some_function_that_may_fail <- function() {
  if( runif(1) < .5 ) stop()
  return(1)
}

r <- NULL
attempt <- 1
while( is.null(r) && attempt <= 3 ) {
  attempt <- attempt + 1
  try(
    r <- some_function_that_may_fail()
  )
} 

I wrote a quick function that allows you to easily retry an operating a configurable number of times, with a configurable wait between attempts:

library(futile.logger)
library(utils)

retry <- function(expr, isError=function(x) "try-error" %in% class(x), maxErrors=5, sleep=0) {
  attempts = 0
  retval = try(eval(expr))
  while (isError(retval)) {
    attempts = attempts + 1
    if (attempts >= maxErrors) {
      msg = sprintf("retry: too many retries [[%s]]", capture.output(str(retval)))
      flog.fatal(msg)
      stop(msg)
    } else {
      msg = sprintf("retry: error in attempt %i/%i [[%s]]", attempts, maxErrors, 
                    capture.output(str(retval)))
      flog.error(msg)
      warning(msg)
    }
    if (sleep > 0) Sys.sleep(sleep)
    retval = try(eval(expr))
  }
  return(retval)
}

So you can just write val = retry(func_that_might_fail(param1, param2), maxErrors=10, sleep=2) to retry calling that function with those parameters, give up after 10 errors, and sleep 2 seconds between attempts.

Also, you can redefine the meaning of what an error looks like by passing a different function as parameter isError, which by default will catch an error signaled with stop. This is useful if the function being called does something else on error, such as returning FALSE or NULL.

This is the alternative I’ve found so far that results in clearer, more readable code.

Hope this helps.

A solution without pre-assigning values and using for instead of while:

some_function_that_may_fail <- function(i) {
  if( runif(1) < .5 ) stop()
  return(i)
}

for(i in 1:10){
  try({
    r <- some_function_that_may_fail(i)
    break #break/exit the for-loop
  }, silent = FALSE)
}

r will be equal to the number of tries that were needed. If you dont want the output of the errors set silent to TRUE

Here’s a function to generate a custom condition to respond to

locked <- function(message="occurred", ...) {
    cond <- simpleCondition(message, ...)
    class(cond) <- c("locked", class(cond))
    cond
}

and a function implemented to allow (an infinite number of) restarts

f <- function() {
    cnt <- 0L
    repeat {
        again <- FALSE
        cnt <- cnt + 1L
        withRestarts({
            ## do work here, and if needed...
            signalCondition(locked())
        }, retry=function() {
            again <<- TRUE
        })
        if (!again) break
    }
    cnt
}

and the use of withCallingHandlers (to keep the context where the condition was signaled active unlike tryCatch) to handle the locked condition

withCallingHandlers({
    n_tries <- 0L
    f()
}, locked=function(e) {
    n_tries <<- n_tries + 1L
    if (n_retries < 3)
        invokeRestart("retry")
})

I like setting my object as an error from the start, also sometimes useful to add some sleep time if you’re having connection problems:

res <- simpleError("Fake error to start")
counter <- 1
max_tries <- 10 
# Sys.sleep(2*counter)
while(inherits(res, "error") & counter < max_tries) { 
  res <- tryCatch({ your_fun(...) }, 
      error = function(e) e)
  counter <- counter + 1
}

I have put together the code and make it package: retry

f <- function(x) {
    if (runif(1) < 0.9) {
        stop("random error")
    }
    x + 1
}

# keep retring when there is a random error
retry::retry(f(1), when = "random error")
#> [1] 2
# keep retring until a requirement is satisified.
retry::retry(f(1), until = function(val, cnd) val == 2)
#> [1] 2
# or using one sided formula
retry::retry(f(1), until = ~ . == 2, max_tries = 10)
#> [1] 2

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