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Workshop: OPT 2023: Optimization for Machine Learning

Surrogate Minimization: An Optimization Algorithm for Training Large Neural Networks with Model Parallelism

Reza Asad · Reza Babanezhad Harikandeh · Issam Hadj Laradji · Nicolas Le Roux · Sharan Vaswani


Optimizing large memory-intensive neural networks requires distributing its layers across multiple GPUs (referred to as model parallelism). We develop a framework that allows decomposing a neural network layer-wise and train it by optimizing layer-wise local losses in parallel. By using the resulting framework with GPipe [11] (an effective pipelining strategy for model parallelism), we propose the Surrogate Minimization (SM) algorithm. SM allows for multiple parallel updates to the layer-wise parameters of a distributed neural network and consequently improves the GPU utilization of GPipe. Our framework ensures that the sum of local losses is a global upper-bound on theneural network loss, and can be minimized efficiently. Under mild technical assumptions, we prove that SM requires O(1/ε) iterations in order to guarantee convergence to an ε-neighbourhood of a stationary point of the neural network loss. Finally, our experimental results on MLPs demonstrate that SM leads to faster convergence compared to competitive baselines.

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