Stochastic Optimization with Laggard Data Pipelines

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Authors

Naman Agarwal, Rohan Anil, Tomer Koren, Kunal Talwar, Cyril Zhang

Abstract

State-of-the-art optimization is steadily shifting towards massively parallel pipelines with extremely large batch sizes. As a consequence, CPU-bound preprocessing and disk/memory/network operations have emerged as new performance bottlenecks, as opposed to hardware-accelerated gradient computations. In this regime, a recently proposed approach is data echoing (Choi et al., 2019), which takes repeated gradient steps on the same batch while waiting for fresh data to arrive from upstream. We provide the first convergence analyses of "data-echoed" extensions of common optimization methods, showing that they exhibit provable improvements over their synchronous counterparts. Specifically, we show that in convex optimization with stochastic minibatches, data echoing affords speedups on the curvature-dominated part of the convergence rate, while maintaining the optimal statistical rate.