Variance Reduction in SGD by Distributed Importance Sampling

Guillaume Alain, Alex Lamb, Chinnadhurai Sankar, Aaron Courville, Yoshua Bengio

Feb 17, 2016 (modified: Feb 17, 2016) ICLR 2016 workshop submission readers: everyone
  • CMT id: 96
  • Abstract: Humans are able to accelerate their learning by selecting training materials that are the most informative and at the appropriate level of difficulty. We propose a framework for distributing deep learning in which one set of workers search for the most informative examples in parallel while a single worker updates the model on examples selected by importance sampling. This leads the model to update using an unbiased estimate of the gradient which also has minimum variance when the sampling proposal is proportional to the L2-norm of the gradient. We show experimentally that this method reduces gradient variance even in a context where the cost of synchronization across machines cannot be ignored, and where the factors for importance sampling are not updated instantly across the training set.
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