Polynomially Coded Regression: Optimal Straggler Mitigation via Data Encoding

We consider the problem of training a least-squares regression model on a large dataset using gradient descent. The computation is carried out on a distributed system consisting of a master node and multiple worker nodes... Such distributed systems are significantly slowed down due to the presence of slow-running machines (stragglers) as well as various communication bottlenecks. We propose "polynomially coded regression" (PCR) that substantially reduces the effect of stragglers and lessens the communication burden in such systems. The key idea of PCR is to encode the partial data stored at each worker, such that the computations at the workers can be viewed as evaluating a polynomial at distinct points. This allows the master to compute the final gradient by interpolating this polynomial. PCR significantly reduces the recovery threshold, defined as the number of workers the master has to wait for prior to computing the gradient. In particular, PCR requires a recovery threshold that scales inversely proportionally with the amount of computation/storage available at each worker. In comparison, state-of-the-art straggler-mitigation schemes require a much higher recovery threshold that only decreases linearly in the per worker computation/storage load. We prove that PCR's recovery threshold is near minimal and within a factor two of the best possible scheme. Our experiments over Amazon EC2 demonstrate that compared with state-of-the-art schemes, PCR improves the run-time by 1.50x ~ 2.36x with naturally occurring stragglers, and by as much as 2.58x ~ 4.29x with artificial stragglers. read more

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