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Improved Asynchronous Parallel Optimization Analysis for Stochastic Incremental Methods

Remi Leblond, Fabian Pedregosa, Simon Lacoste-Julien; 19(81):1−68, 2018.


As data sets continue to increase in size and multi-core computer architectures are developed, asynchronous parallel optimization algorithms become more and more essential to the field of Machine Learning. Unfortunately, conducting the theoretical analysis asynchronous methods is difficult, notably due to the introduction of delay and inconsistency in inherently sequential algorithms. Handling these issues often requires resorting to simplifying but unrealistic assumptions. Through a novel perspective, we revisit and clarify a subtle but important technical issue present in a large fraction of the recent convergence rate proofs for asynchronous parallel optimization algorithms, and propose a simplification of the recently introduced “perturbed iterate” framework that resolves it. We demonstrate the usefulness of our new framework by analyzing three distinct asynchronous parallel incremental optimization algorithms: Hogwild (asynchronous SGD), KROMAGNON (asynchronous SVRG) and ASAGA, a novel asynchronous parallel version of the incremental gradient algorithm SAGA that enjoys fast linear convergence rates. We are able to both remove problematic assumptions and obtain better theoretical results. Notably, we prove that ASAGA and KROMAGNON can obtain a theoretical linear speedup on multi-core systems even without sparsity assumptions. We present results of an implementation on a 40-core architecture illustrating the practical speedups as well as the hardware overhead. Finally, we investigate the overlap constant, an ill-understood but central quantity for the theoretical analysis of asynchronous parallel algorithms. We find that it encompasses much more complexity than suggested in previous work, and often is order-of-magnitude bigger than traditionally thought.

© JMLR 2018.