The signac framework is designed to simplify the generation, storage, and analysis of multidimensional data sets associated with large-scale, file-based computational studies. The framework consists of three Python packages: signac (core) maintains a file-based database; signac-flow allows users to specify workflows and submit operations to scheduling systems; signac-dashboard runs a local webserver to browse a signac project.

Generally speaking, in signac, collections of parameter values are jobs and are stored in a flat directory structure. Every job contains both the metadata (constant parameters like temperature, volume) and data (measurements), and the metadata are hashed to create the job’s directory name. This means that all data is uniquely addressable from the associated metadata. Consequently, any computational work that requires you to manage files and execute workflows may benefit from an integration with signac. Typical examples include hyperparameter optimization for machine learning applications and high-throughput screening of material properties with various simulation methods.

More specifically, the data model of signac assumes that the smallest unit to track is the parameter, which can take on different values, whether used as input for computer simulations or variables in an experiment. A set of parameters along with their values is a state point. This may specify the information needed to run code like a simulation, do a lab experiment, or specify model hyperparameters. The md5 hash of a state point uniquely defines a job, and all job data is stored in the corresponding job directory. The machinery of signac is designed to handle jobs in a flexible way.

With signac-flow, we define the process of generating and manipulating a specific data set as a sequence of operations on a job. Using this abstraction, signac can define workflows on an arbitrary signac project.


Overview of the signac framework. When a signac project is initialized, a workspace/ directory is created. Each job is uniquely identified by its state point, a unique dictionary that contains relevant parameters describing the job. The workspace holds a directory for each job, containing JSON files that store the state point and job document. The job directory name is a hash of the state point’s contents. Here, the file initializes an empty project and adds one job with state point {"t": 1}. Next, users define a workflow using a subclass of signac-flow’s FlowProject. The workflow shown has three operations (simulate, analyze, visualize) that, when executed, produce two new files results.txt and plot.png in the job directory.