Biowulf High Performance Computing at the NIH
ANTs on Biowulf

Advanced Normalization Tools (ANTs) extracts information from complex datasets that include imaging. ANTs extracts information from complex datasets that include imaging (Word Cloud). Paired with ANTsR (answer), ANTs is useful for managing, interpreting and visualizing multidimensional data. ANTs depends on the Insight ToolKit (ITK), a widely used medical image processing library to which ANTs developers contribute.

ANTs development is led by Brian Avants and supported by other researchers and developers at PICSL and other institutions.

Important Notes

Interactive job
Interactive jobs should be used for debugging, graphics, or applications that cannot be run as batch jobs.

Allocate an interactive session and run the program. Sample session:

[user@biowulf]$ sinteractive --mem=5g
salloc.exe: Pending job allocation 46116226
salloc.exe: job 46116226 queued and waiting for resources
salloc.exe: job 46116226 has been allocated resources
salloc.exe: Granted job allocation 46116226
salloc.exe: Waiting for resource configuration
salloc.exe: Nodes cn3144 are ready for job

[user@cn3144 ~]$ cd /data/$USER/myruns

[user@cn3144 ~]$ module load ANTs

[user@cn3144 ~]$ ./ -d 2 -a 0 -f data/symm_t.nii.2.gz -m data/asymm_s.nii.2.gz -o XXXX
inputs: data/symm_t.nii.gz data/asymm_s.nii.gz XXXX 2
 CenterOfMass [133.032, 163.98]
Using double precision for computations.
Input scalar image: data/asymm_s.nii.gz
Reference image: data/asymm_s.nii.gz
 1DIAGNOSTIC,    30, 2.079582101904e-04, -4.725553011784e-04, 2.0881e+01, 5.1356e-01,
  Elapsed time (stage 0): 2.0949e+01

Total elapsed time: 2.0950e+01

[user@cn3144 ~]$ exit
salloc.exe: Relinquishing job allocation 46116226
[user@biowulf ~]$

Batch job
Most jobs should be run as batch jobs.

Create a batch input file (e.g. For example:

# this file is called
module load ANTs
cd /data/$USER/mydir
tar -xvf /usr/local/apps/ANTs/examples/stnava-asymmetry-f8ecc74.tar
cd stnava-asymmetry-f8ecc74
./ -d 2 -a 0 -f data/symm_t.nii.gz -m data/asymm_s.nii.gz -o XXXX

Submit this job using the Slurm sbatch command.


The command above will allocate 2 CPUs and 4 GB of memory to the job, which is sufficient for this test.

Some of the ANTs scripts and executables are multi-threaded. Several of them use the variable ITK_GLOBAL_DEFAULT_NUMBER_OF_THREADS to set the number of threads. For these ANTs programs, you can add the following line in your batch script:

and submit with, for example:
sbatch --cpus-per-task=8

Other ANTs programs allow for explicit setting of the number of threads. For example, the following ANTs scripts have a '-n' option to set the number of threads:
For these scripts, you can simply add -n $SLURM_CPUS_PER_TASK to the command within your batch script to set the number of threads equal to allocated CPUs. Submit with, as above, the --cpus-per-task=# sbatch parameter.

Your job may require more than 4 GB of memory, so you may need to specify the memory when submitting. e.g.

$ sbatch --mem=5g myjob.bat
would allocate 5 GB of memory for your job.
Swarm of Jobs
A swarm of jobs is an easy way to submit a set of independent commands requiring identical resources.

Create a swarmfile (e.g. ANTs.swarm). For example:

cd /path/to/mydir; ./ -d 2 -a 0 -f data/sym.nii.1.gz -m data/asym.nii.1.gz -o out1
cd /path/to/mydir; ./ -d 2 -a 0 -f data/sym.nii.2.gz -m data/asym.nii.2.gz -o out2
cd /path/to/mydir; ./ -d 2 -a 0 -f data/sym.nii.3.gz -m data/asym.nii.3.gz -o out3

Submit this job using the swarm command.

swarm -f ANTs.swarm [-g #] [-t #] --module TEMPLATE
-g # Number of Gigabytes of memory required for each process (1 line in the swarm command file)
-t # Number of threads/CPUs required for each process (1 line in the swarm command file).
--module TEMPLATE Loads the TEMPLATE module for each subjob in the swarm