Trading Redundancy for Communication: Speeding up Distributed SGD for Non-convex Optimization


Farzin Haddadpour, Mohammad Mahdi Kamani, Mehrdad Mahdavi, Viveck Cadambe ;
Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 97:2545-2554, 2019.


Communication overhead is one of the key challenges that hinders the scalability of distributed optimization algorithms to train large neural networks. In recent years, there has been a great deal of research to alleviate communication cost by compressing the gradient vector or using local updates and periodic model averaging. In this paper, we advocate the use of redundancy towards communication-efficient distributed stochastic algorithms for non-convex optimization. In particular, we, both theoretically and practically, show that by properly infusing redundancy to the training data with model averaging, it is possible to significantly reduce the number of communication rounds. To be more precise, we show that redundancy reduces residual error in local averaging, thereby reaching the same level of accuracy with fewer rounds of communication as compared with previous algorithms. Empirical studies on CIFAR10, CIFAR100 and ImageNet datasets in a distributed environment complement our theoretical results; they show that our algorithms have additional beneficial aspects including tolerance to failures, as well as greater gradient diversity.

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