Spotlight: Optimizing Device Placement for Training Deep Neural Networks


Yuanxiang Gao, Li Chen, Baochun Li ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:1676-1684, 2018.


Training deep neural networks (DNNs) requires an increasing amount of computation resources, and it becomes typical to use a mixture of GPU and CPU devices. Due to the heterogeneity of these devices, a recent challenge is how each operation in a neural network can be optimally placed on these devices, so that the training process can take the shortest amount of time possible. The current state-of-the-art solution uses reinforcement learning based on the policy gradient method, and it suffers from suboptimal training times. In this paper, we propose Spotlight, a new reinforcement learning algorithm based on proximal policy optimization, designed specifically for finding an optimal device placement for training DNNs. The design of our new algorithm relies upon a new model of the device placement problem: by modeling it as a Markov decision process with multiple stages, we are able to prove that Spotlight achieves a theoretical guarantee on performance improvements. We have implemented Spotlight in the CIFAR-10 benchmark and deployed it on the Google Cloud platform. Extensive experiments have demonstrated that the training time with placements recommended by Spotlight is 60.9% of that recommended by the policy gradient method.

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