Named Actors

An actor can be given a unique name within their namespace. This allows you to retrieve the actor from any job in the Ray cluster. This can be useful if you cannot directly pass the actor handle to the task that needs it, or if you are trying to access an actor launched by another driver. Note that the actor will still be garbage-collected if no handles to it exist. See Actor Lifetimes for more details.

# Create an actor with a name
counter = Counter.options(name="some_name").remote()

...

# Retrieve the actor later somewhere
counter = ray.get_actor("some_name")
// Create an actor with a name.
ActorHandle<Counter> counter = Ray.actor(Counter::new).setName("some_name").remote();

...

// Retrieve the actor later somewhere
Optional<ActorHandle<Counter>> counter = Ray.getActor("some_name");
Assert.assertTrue(counter.isPresent());
// Create an actor with a globally unique name
ActorHandle<Counter> counter = ray::Actor(CreateCounter).SetGlobalName("some_name").Remote();

...

// Retrieve the actor later somewhere
boost::optional<ray::ActorHandle<Counter>> counter = ray::GetGlobalActor("some_name");

We also support non-global named actors in C++, which means that the actor name is only valid within the job and the actor cannot be accessed from another job

// Create an actor with a job-scope-unique name
ActorHandle<Counter> counter = ray::Actor(CreateCounter).SetName("some_name").Remote();

...

// Retrieve the actor later somewhere in the same job
boost::optional<ray::ActorHandle<Counter>> counter = ray::GetActor("some_name");

Note

Named actors are scoped by namespace. If no namespace is assigned, they will be placed in an anonymous namespace by default.

import ray

@ray.remote
class Actor:
  pass

# driver_1.py
# Job 1 creates an actor, "orange" in the "colors" namespace.
ray.init(address="auto", namespace="colors")
Actor.options(name="orange", lifetime="detached").remote()

# driver_2.py
# Job 2 is now connecting to a different namespace.
ray.init(address="auto", namespace="fruit")
# This fails because "orange" was defined in the "colors" namespace.
ray.get_actor("orange")
# You can also specify the namespace explicitly.
ray.get_actor("orange", namespace="colors")

# driver_3.py
# Job 3 connects to the original "colors" namespace
ray.init(address="auto", namespace="colors")
# This returns the "orange" actor we created in the first job.
ray.get_actor("orange")
import ray

class Actor {
}

// Driver1.java
// Job 1 creates an actor, "orange" in the "colors" namespace.
System.setProperty("ray.job.namespace", "colors");
Ray.init();
Ray.actor(Actor::new).setName("orange").remote();

// Driver2.java
// Job 2 is now connecting to a different namespace.
System.setProperty("ray.job.namespace", "fruits");
Ray.init();
// This fails because "orange" was defined in the "colors" namespace.
Optional<ActorHandle<Actor>> actor = Ray.getActor("orange");
Assert.assertFalse(actor.isPresent());  // actor.isPresent() is false.

// Driver3.java
System.setProperty("ray.job.namespace", "colors");
Ray.init();
// This returns the "orange" actor we created in the first job.
Optional<ActorHandle<Actor>> actor = Ray.getActor("orange");
Assert.assertTrue(actor.isPresent());  // actor.isPresent() is true.

Get-Or-Create a Named Actor

A common use case is to create an actor only if it doesn’t exist. Ray provides a get_if_exists option for actor creation that does this out of the box. This method is available after you set a name for the actor via .options().

If the actor already exists, a handle to the actor will be returned and the arguments will be ignored. Otherwise, a new actor will be created with the specified arguments.

import ray


@ray.remote
class Greeter:
    def __init__(self, value):
        self.value = value

    def say_hello(self):
        return self.value


# Actor `g1` doesn't yet exist, so it is created with the given args.
a = Greeter.options(name="g1", get_if_exists=True).remote("Old Greeting")
assert ray.get(a.say_hello.remote()) == "Old Greeting"

# Actor `g1` already exists, so it is returned (new args are ignored).
b = Greeter.options(name="g1", get_if_exists=True).remote("New Greeting")
assert ray.get(b.say_hello.remote()) == "Old Greeting"
// This feature is not yet available in Java.
// This feature is not yet available in C++.

Actor Lifetimes

Separately, actor lifetimes can be decoupled from the job, allowing an actor to persist even after the driver process of the job exits.

counter = Counter.options(name="CounterActor", lifetime="detached").remote()

The CounterActor will be kept alive even after the driver running above script exits. Therefore it is possible to run the following script in a different driver:

counter = ray.get_actor("CounterActor")
print(ray.get(counter.get_counter.remote()))

Note that the lifetime option is decoupled from the name. If we only specified the name without specifying lifetime="detached", then the CounterActor can only be retrieved as long as the original driver is still running.

System.setProperty("ray.job.namespace", "lifetime");
Ray.init();
ActorHandle<Counter> counter = Ray.actor(Counter::new).setName("some_name").setLifetime(ActorLifetime.DETACHED).remote();

The CounterActor will be kept alive even after the driver running above process exits. Therefore it is possible to run the following code in a different driver:

System.setProperty("ray.job.namespace", "lifetime");
Ray.init();
Optional<ActorHandle<Counter>> counter = Ray.getActor("some_name");
Assert.assertTrue(counter.isPresent());

Customizing lifetime of an actor hasn’t been implemented in C++ yet.