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Poster
PipeTransformer: Automated Elastic Pipelining for Distributed Training of Large-scale Models
Chaoyang He · Shen Li · Mahdi Soltanolkotabi · Salman Avestimehr

Thu Jul 22 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PDT) @ None #None

The size of Transformer models is growing at an unprecedented rate. It has taken less than one year to reach trillion-level parameters since the release of GPT-3 (175B). Training such models requires both substantial engineering efforts and enormous computing resources, which are luxuries most research teams cannot afford. In this paper, we propose PipeTransformer, which leverages automated elastic pipelining for efficient distributed training of Transformer models. In PipeTransformer, we design an adaptive on the fly freeze algorithm that can identify and freeze some layers gradually during training, and an elastic pipelining system that can dynamically allocate resources to train the remaining active layers. More specifically, PipeTransformer automatically excludes frozen layers from the pipeline, packs active layers into fewer GPUs, and forks more replicas to increase data-parallel width. We evaluate PipeTransformer using Vision Transformer (ViT) on ImageNet and BERT on SQuAD and GLUE datasets. Our results show that compared to the state-of-the-art baseline, PipeTransformer attains up to 2.83-fold speedup without losing accuracy. We also provide various performance analyses for a more comprehensive understanding of our algorithmic and system-wise design. Finally, we have modularized our training system with flexible APIs and made the source code publicly available at https://DistML.ai.

Author Information

Chaoyang He (University of Southern California)

Chaoyang He is a Ph.D. Candidate in the CS department at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA. He is advised by Salman Avestimehr (USC), Professor Mahdi Soltanolkotabi (USC), Professor Murali Annavaram (USC), and Professor Tong Zhang (HKUST). He also works closely with researchers/engineers at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Tencent. Previously, He was an R&D Team Manager and Staff Software Engineer at Tencent (2014-2018), a Team Leader and Senior Software Engineer at Baidu (2012-2014), and a Software Engineer at Huawei (2011-2012). His research focuses on distributed/federated machine learning algorithms, systems, and applications. Chaoyang He has received a number of awards in academia and industry, including Amazon ML Fellowship (2021-2022), Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (2021-2022), Tencent Outstanding Staff Award (2015-2016), WeChat Special Award for Innovation (2016), Baidu LBS Group Star Awards (2013), and Huawei Golden Network Award (2012). During his Ph.D. study, he has published papers at ICML, NeurIPS, CVPR, ICLR, MLSys, among others. Besides pure research, he also has R&D experience for Internet products and businesses such as Tencent Cloud, Tencent WeChat Automotive / AI in Car, Tencent Games, Tencent Maps, Baidu Maps, and Huawei Smartphone. He obtained three years of experience in R&D team management at Tencent between 2016-2018. With his advisors, he also co-founds FedML.ai, built based on a paper that won Best Paper Award at NeurIPS 2020 FL workshop. More details are available at his homepage: https://ChaoyangHe.com

Shen Li (Facebook AI Applied Research)
Mahdi Soltanolkotabi (University of Southern California)

Mahdi Soltanolkotabi is an assistant professor in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Southern California where he holds an Andrew and Erna Viterbi Early Career Chair. Prior to joining USC, he completed his PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford in 2014. He was a postdoctoral researcher in the EECS department at UC Berkeley during the 2014-2015 academic year. His research focuses on developing the mathematical foundations of data analysis at the confluence of optimization, machine learning, signal processing, high dimensional statistics, computational imaging and artificial intelligence. Mahdi is the recipient of the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, a Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF Career award, an Airforce Office of Research Young Investigator award (AFOSR-YIP), and a Google faculty research award.

Salman Avestimehr (University of Southern California)

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