Optimal Mini-Batch Size Selection for Fast Gradient Descent

This paper presents a methodology for selecting the mini-batch size that minimizes Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) learning time for single and multiple learner problems. By decoupling algorithmic analysis issues from hardware and software implementation details, we reveal a robust empirical inverse law between mini-batch size and the average number of SGD updates required to converge to a specified error threshold. Combining this empirical inverse law with measured system performance, we create an accurate, closed-form model of average training time and show how this model can be used to identify quantifiable implications for both algorithmic and hardware aspects of machine learning. We demonstrate the inverse law empirically, on both image recognition (MNIST, CIFAR10 and CIFAR100) and machine translation (Europarl) tasks, and provide a theoretic justification via proving a novel bound on mini-batch SGD training.

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