Jul 12, 2020
Many large-scale machine learning (ML) applications need to perform decentralized learning over datasets generated at different devices and locations. Such datasets pose a significant challenge to decentralized learning because their different contexts result in significant data distribution skew across devices/locations. In this paper, we take a step toward better understanding this challenge by presenting a detailed experimental study of decentralized DNN training on a common type of data skew: skewed distribution of data labels across locations/devices. Our study shows that: (i) skewed data labels are a fundamental and pervasive problem for decentralized learning, causing significant accuracy loss across many ML applications, DNN models, training datasets, and decentralized learning algorithms; (ii) the problem is particularly challenging for DNN models with batch normalization layers; and (iii) the degree of skewness is a key determinant of the difficulty of the problem. Based on these findings, we present SkewScout, a system-level approach that adapts the communication frequency of decentralized learning algorithms to the (skew-induced) accuracy loss between data partitions. We also show that group normalization can recover much of the skew-induced accuracy loss of batch normalization.
The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.
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