Sparse Binary Compression: Towards Distributed Deep Learning with minimal Communication

Felix Sattler, Simon Wiedemann, Klaus-Robert Müller, Wojciech Samek

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Currently, progressively larger deep neural networks are trained on ever growing data corpora. In result, distributed training schemes are becoming increasingly relevant. A major issue in distributed training is the limited communication bandwidth between contributing nodes or prohibitive communication cost in general. %These challenges become even more pressing, as the number of computation nodes increases. To mitigate this problem we propose Sparse Binary Compression (SBC), a compression framework that allows for a drastic reduction of communication cost for distributed training. SBC combines existing techniques of communication delay and gradient sparsification with a novel binarization method and optimal weight update encoding to push compression gains to new limits. By doing so, our method also allows us to smoothly trade-off gradient sparsity and temporal sparsity to adapt to the requirements of the learning task. %We use tools from information theory to reason why SBC can achieve the striking compression rates observed in the experiments. Our experiments show, that SBC can reduce the upstream communication on a variety of convolutional and recurrent neural network architectures by more than four orders of magnitude without significantly harming the convergence speed in terms of forward-backward passes. For instance, we can train ResNet50 on ImageNet in the same number of iterations to the baseline accuracy, using $\times 3531$ less bits or train it to a $1\%$ lower accuracy using $\times 37208$ less bits. In the latter case, the total upstream communication required is cut from 125 terabytes to 3.35 gigabytes for every participating client. Our method also achieves state-of-the-art compression rates in a Federated Learning setting with 400 clients.
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