Date of Original Version

12-30-2013

Type

Working Paper

Abstract or Description

A major bottleneck to applying advanced ML programs at industrial scales is the migration of an academic implementation, often specialized for a small, well-controlled computer platform such as desktop PCs and small lab-clusters, to a big, less predicable platform such as a corporate cluster or the cloud. This poses enormous challenges: how does one train huge models with billions of parameters on massive data, especially when substantial expertise is required to handle many low-level systems issues? We propose a new architecture of systems components that systematically addresses these challenges, thus providing a general-purpose distributed platform for Big Machine Learning. Our architecture specifically exploits the fact that many ML programs are fundamentally loss function minimization problems, and that their iterative-convergent nature presents many unique opportunities to minimize loss, such as via dynamic variable scheduling and error-bounded consistency models for synchronization. Thus, we treat data, parameter and variable blocks as computing units to be dynamically scheduled and updated in an error-bounded manner, with the goal of minimizing the loss function as quickly as possible.

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