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# Accelerating Gossip SGD with Periodic Global Averaging

*Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 139:1791-1802, 2021.

#### Abstract

Communication overhead hinders the scalability of large-scale distributed training. Gossip SGD, where each node averages only with its neighbors, is more communication-efficient than the prevalent parallel SGD. However, its convergence rate is reversely proportional to quantity $1-\beta$ which measures the network connectivity. On large and sparse networks where $1-\beta \to 0$, Gossip SGD requires more iterations to converge, which offsets against its communication benefit. This paper introduces Gossip-PGA, which adds Periodic Global Averaging to accelerate Gossip SGD. Its transient stage, i.e., the iterations required to reach asymptotic linear speedup stage, improves from $\Omega(\beta^4 n^3/(1-\beta)^4)$ to $\Omega(\beta^4 n^3 H^4)$ for non-convex problems. The influence of network topology in Gossip-PGA can be controlled by the averaging period $H$. Its transient-stage complexity is also superior to local SGD which has order $\Omega(n^3 H^4)$. Empirical results of large-scale training on image classification (ResNet50) and language modeling (BERT) validate our theoretical findings.