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LENA: Communication-Efficient Distributed Learning with Self-Triggered Gradient Uploads

Hossein Shokri Ghadikolaei · Sebastian Stich · Martin Jaggi

Keywords: [ Algorithms, Optimization and Computation Methods ] [ Convex optimization ]


In distributed optimization, parameter updates from the gradient computing node devices have to be aggregated in every iteration on the orchestrating server. When these updates are sent over an arbitrary commodity network, bandwidth and latency can be limiting factors. We propose a communication framework where nodes may skip unnecessary uploads. Every node locally accumulates an error vector in memory and self-triggers the upload of the memory contents to the parameter server using a significance filter. The server then uses a history of the nodes' gradients to update the parameter. We characterize the convergence rate of our algorithm in smooth settings (strongly-convex, convex, and non-convex) and show that it enjoys the same convergence rate as when sending gradients every iteration, with substantially fewer uploads. Numerical experiments on real data indicate a significant reduction of used network resources (total communicated bits and latency), especially in large networks, compared to state-of-the-art algorithms. Our results provide important practical insights for using machine learning over resource-constrained networks, including Internet-of-Things and geo-separated datasets across the globe.

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