SimiGrad: Fine-Grained Adaptive Batching for Large Scale Training using Gradient Similarity Measurement

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Heyang Qin, Samyam Rajbhandari, Olatunji Ruwase, Feng Yan, Lei Yang, Yuxiong He


Large scale training requires massive parallelism to finish the training within a reasonable amount of time. To support massive parallelism, large batch training is the key enabler but often at the cost of generalization performance. Existing works explore adaptive batching or hand-tuned static large batching, in order to strike a balance between the computational efficiency and the performance. However, these methods can provide only coarse-grained adaption (e.g., at a epoch level) due to the intrinsic expensive calculation or hand tuning requirements. In this paper, we propose a fully automated and lightweight adaptive batching methodology to enable fine-grained batch size adaption (e.g., at a mini-batch level) that can achieve state-of-the-art performance with record breaking batch sizes. The core component of our method is a lightweight yet efficient representation of the critical gradient noise information. We open-source the proposed methodology by providing a plugin tool that supports mainstream machine learning frameworks. Extensive evaluations on popular benchmarks (e.g., CIFAR10, ImageNet, and BERT-Large) demonstrate that the proposed methodology outperforms state-of-the-art methodologies using adaptive batching approaches or hand-tuned static strategies in both performance and batch size. Particularly, we achieve a new state-of-the-art batch size of 78k in BERT-Large pretraining with SQuAD score 90.69 compared to 90.58 reported in previous state-of-the-art with 59k batch size.