Tree gradient coding


Scaling up distributed machine learning systems face two major bottlenecks – delays due to stragglers and limited communication bandwidth. Recently, a number of coding theoretic strategies have been proposed for mitigating these bottlenecks. In particular, the Gradient Coding (GC) scheme was proposed to speed up distributed gradient descent algorithm in a synchronous master-worker setting by providing robustness to stragglers. A major drawback of the master-worker architecture for distributed learning is however, the bandwidth contention at the master, which can significantly deteriorate the performance as the cluster size increases. In this paper, we propose a new framework named Tree Gradient Coding (TGC) for distributed gradient aggregation, which parallelizes communication over a tree topology while providing straggler robustness. As our main contribution, we characterize the minimum computation load for TGC for a given tree topology and straggler resiliency, and design a tree gradient coding algorithm that achieves this optimal computation load. Furthermore, we provide results from experiments over Amazon EC2, where TGC speeds up the training time by up to $18.8\times$ in comparison to GC.

In IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT), 2019