Collage Inference: Using Coded Redundancy for Low Variance Distributed Image Classification

MLaaS (ML-as-a-Service) offerings by cloud computing platforms are becoming increasingly popular. Hosting pre-trained machine learning models in the cloud enables elastic scalability as the demand grows. But providing low latency and reducing the latency variance is a key requirement. Variance is harder to control in a cloud deployment due to uncertainties in resource allocations across many virtual instances. We propose the collage inference technique which uses a novel convolutional neural network model, collage-cnn, to provide low-cost redundancy. A collage-cnn model takes a collage image formed by combining multiple images and performs multi-image classification in one shot, albeit at slightly lower accuracy. We augment a collection of traditional single image classifier models with a single collage-cnn classifier which acts as their low-cost redundant backup. Collage-cnn provides backup classification results if any single image classification requests experience slowdown. Deploying the collage-cnn models in the cloud, we demonstrate that the 99th percentile tail latency of inference can be reduced by 1.2x to 2x compared to replication based approaches while providing high accuracy. Variation in inference latency can be reduced by 1.8x to 15x.

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