Gradient Coding via the Stochastic Block Model

Research paper by Zachary Charles, Dimitris Papailiopoulos

Indexed on: 25 May '18Published on: 25 May '18Published in: arXiv - Statistics - Machine Learning


Gradient descent and its many variants, including mini-batch stochastic gradient descent, form the algorithmic foundation of modern large-scale machine learning. Due to the size and scale of modern data, gradient computations are often distributed across multiple compute nodes. Unfortunately, such distributed implementations can face significant delays caused by straggler nodes, i.e., nodes that are much slower than average. Gradient coding is a new technique for mitigating the effect of stragglers via algorithmic redundancy. While effective, previously proposed gradient codes can be computationally expensive to construct, inaccurate, or susceptible to adversarial stragglers. In this work, we present the stochastic block code (SBC), a gradient code based on the stochastic block model. We show that SBCs are efficient, accurate, and that under certain settings, adversarial straggler selection becomes as hard as detecting a community structure in the multiple community, block stochastic graph model.