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Get the random number generator seed of the target currently running.


tar_seed_get(default = 1L)



Integer, value to return if tar_seed_get() is called on its own outside a targets pipeline. Having a default lets users run things without tar_make(), which helps peel back layers of code and troubleshoot bugs.


Integer of length 1. If invoked inside a targets pipeline, the return value is the seed of the target currently running, which is a deterministic function of the target name. Otherwise, the return value is default.


A target's random number generator seed is a deterministic function of its name and the global pipeline seed from tar_option_get("seed"). Consequently,

1. Each target runs with a reproducible seed so that
   different runs of the same pipeline in the same computing
   environment produce identical results.
2. No two targets in the same pipeline share the same seed.
   Even dynamic branches have different names and thus different seeds.

You can retrieve the seed of a completed target with tar_meta(your_target, seed) and run tar_seed_set() on the result to locally recreate the target's initial RNG state. tar_workspace() does this automatically as part of recovering a workspace.

RNG overlap

In theory, there is a risk that the pseudo-random number generator streams of different targets will overlap and produce statistically correlated results. (For a discussion of the motivating problem, see the Section 6: "Random-number generation" in the parallel package vignette: vignette(topic = "parallel", package = "parallel").) However, this risk is extremely small in practice, as shown by L'Ecuyer et al. (2017) doi:10.1016/j.matcom.2016.05.005 under "A single RNG with a 'random' seed for each stream" (Section 4: under "How to produce parallel streams and substreams"). targets and tarchetypes take the approach discussed in the aforementioned section of the paper using the secretbase package by Charlie Gao (2024) doi:10.5281/zenodo.10553140 . To generate the 32-bit integer seed argument of set.seed() for each target, secretbase generates a cryptographic SHA3 hash and robustly converts it to 32-bit output using the SHAKE256 extendable output function (XOF). secretbase uses algorithms from the Mbed TLS C library.


  • Gao C (2024). secretbase: Cryptographic Hash and Extendable-Output Functions. R package version 0.1.0, doi:10.5281/zenodo.10553140 .

  • Pierre L'Ecuyer, David Munger, Boris Oreshkin, and Richard Simard (2017). Random numbers for parallel computers: Requirements and methods, with emphasis on GPUs. Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, 135, 3-17. doi:10.1016/j.matcom.2016.05.005 .

See also

Other pseudo-random number generation: tar_seed_create(), tar_seed_set()


#> [1] 1
tar_seed_get(default = 123L)
#> [1] 123
if (identical(Sys.getenv("TAR_EXAMPLES"), "true")) { # for CRAN
tar_dir({ # tar_dir() runs code from a temp dir for CRAN.
tar_script(tar_target(returns_seed, tar_seed_get()), ask = FALSE)