Machine Learning Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


More Effective Distributed ML via a
Stale Synchronous Parallel Parameter Server

Qirong Ho, James Cipar, Henggang Cui, Seunghak Lee,
Jin Kyu Kim, Phillip B. Gibbons, Gregory R. Ganger,
Garth Gibson, Eric P. Xing

July 2013


Keywords: Distributed ML, Staleness, Parameter Server, Caching

We propose a parameter server system for distributed ML, which follows a Stale Synchronous Parallel (SSP) model of computation that maximizes the time computational workers spend doing useful work on ML algorithms, while still providing correctness guarantees. The parameter server provides an easy-to-use shared interface for read/write access to an ML model’s values (parameters and variables), and the SSP model allows distributed workers to read older, stale versions of these values from a local cache, instead of waiting to get them from a central storage. This significantly increases the proportion of time workers spend computing, as opposed to waiting. Furthermore, the SSP model ensures ML algorithm correctness by limiting the maximum age of the stale values. We provide a proof of correctness under SSP, as well as empirical results demonstrating that the SSP model achieves faster algorithm convergence on several different ML problems, compared to fully-synchronous and asynchronous schemes.

23 pages

SCS Technical Report Collection
School of Computer Science