In Ray, tasks and actors create and compute on objects. We refer to these objects as remote objects because they can be stored anywhere in a Ray cluster, and we use object refs to refer to them. Remote objects are cached in Ray’s distributed shared-memory object store, and there is one object store per node in the cluster. In the cluster setting, a remote object can live on one or many nodes, independent of who holds the object ref(s).

An object ref is essentially a pointer or a unique ID that can be used to refer to a remote object without seeing its value. If you’re familiar with futures, Ray object refs are conceptually similar.

Object refs can be created in two ways.

  1. They are returned by remote function calls.

  2. They are returned by put (docstring).

# Put an object in Ray's object store.
y = 1
object_ref = ray.put(y)
// Put an object in Ray's object store.
int y = 1;
ObjectRef<Integer> objectRef = Ray.put(y);
// Put an object in Ray's object store.
int y = 1;
ray::ObjectRef<int> object_ref = ray::Put(y);


Remote objects are immutable. That is, their values cannot be changed after creation. This allows remote objects to be replicated in multiple object stores without needing to synchronize the copies.

Fetching Object Data

You can use the get method (docstring) to fetch the result of a remote object from an object ref. If the current node’s object store does not contain the object, the object is downloaded.

If the object is a numpy array or a collection of numpy arrays, the get call is zero-copy and returns arrays backed by shared object store memory. Otherwise, we deserialize the object data into a Python object.

# Get the value of one object ref.
obj_ref = ray.put(1)
assert ray.get(obj_ref) == 1

# Get the values of multiple object refs in parallel.
assert ray.get([ray.put(i) for i in range(3)]) == [0, 1, 2]

# You can also set a timeout to return early from a ``get``
# that's blocking for too long.
from ray.exceptions import GetTimeoutError


def long_running_function():

obj_ref = long_running_function.remote()
    ray.get(obj_ref, timeout=4)
except GetTimeoutError:
    print("`get` timed out.")
// Get the value of one object ref.
ObjectRef<Integer> objRef = Ray.put(1);
Assert.assertTrue(objRef.get() == 1);
// You can also set a timeout(ms) to return early from a ``get`` that's blocking for too long.
Assert.assertTrue(objRef.get(1000) == 1);

// Get the values of multiple object refs in parallel.
List<ObjectRef<Integer>> objectRefs = new ArrayList<>();
for (int i = 0; i < 3; i++) {
List<Integer> results = Ray.get(objectRefs);
Assert.assertEquals(results, ImmutableList.of(0, 1, 2));

// Ray.get timeout example: Ray.get will throw an RayTimeoutException if time out.
public class MyRayApp {
  public static int slowFunction() throws InterruptedException {
    return 1;
  () -> Ray.get(Ray.task(MyRayApp::slowFunction).remote(), 3000));
// Get the value of one object ref.
ray::ObjectRef<int> obj_ref = ray::Put(1);
assert(*obj_ref.Get() == 1);

// Get the values of multiple object refs in parallel.
std::vector<ray::ObjectRef<int>> obj_refs;
for (int i = 0; i < 3; i++) {
auto results = ray::Get(obj_refs);
assert(results.size() == 3);
assert(*results[0] == 0);
assert(*results[1] == 1);
assert(*results[2] == 2);

Passing Objects by Reference

Ray object references can be freely passed around a Ray application. This means that they can be passed as arguments to tasks, actor methods, and even stored in other objects. Objects are tracked via distributed reference counting, and their data is automatically freed once all references to the object are deleted.

def echo(x):

# Put an object in Ray's object store.
object_ref = ray.put(1)

# Pass-by-value: send the object to a task as a top-level argument.
# The object will be de-referenced, so the task only sees its value.
# -> prints "1"

# Pass-by-reference: when passed inside a Python list or other data structure,
# the object ref is preserved. The object data is not transferred to the worker
# when it is passed by reference, until ray.get() is called on the reference.
echo.remote({"obj": object_ref})
# -> prints "{"obj": ObjectRef(...)}"

# Objects can be nested within each other. Ray will keep the inner object
# alive via reference counting until all outer object references are deleted.
object_ref_2 = ray.put([object_ref])

# Examples of passing objects to actors.
actor_handle = Actor.remote(obj)  # by-value
actor_handle = Actor.remote([obj])  # by-reference
actor_handle.method.remote(obj)  # by-value
actor_handle.method.remote([obj])  # by-reference