### Session

## Optimization (Distributed)

Moderators: Aymeric Dieuleveut · Peter Richtarik

**Optimal Complexity in Decentralized Training**

Yucheng Lu · Christopher De Sa

Decentralization is a promising method of scaling up parallel machine learning systems. In this paper, we provide a tight lower bound on the iteration complexity for such methods in a stochastic non-convex setting. Our lower bound reveals a theoretical gap in known convergence rates of many existing decentralized training algorithms, such as D-PSGD. We prove by construction this lower bound is tight and achievable. Motivated by our insights, we further propose DeTAG, a practical gossip-style decentralized algorithm that achieves the lower bound with only a logarithm gap. Empirically, we compare DeTAG with other decentralized algorithms on image classification tasks, and we show DeTAG enjoys faster convergence compared to baselines, especially on unshuffled data and in sparse networks.

**Stochastic Sign Descent Methods: New Algorithms and Better Theory**

Mher Safaryan · Peter Richtarik

Various gradient compression schemes have been proposed to mitigate the communication cost in distributed training of large scale machine learning models. Sign-based methods, such as signSGD (Bernstein et al., 2018), have recently been gaining popularity because of their simple compression rule and connection to adaptive gradient methods, like ADAM. In this paper, we analyze sign-based methods for non-convex optimization in three key settings: (i) standard single node, (ii) parallel with shared data and (iii) distributed with partitioned data. For single machine case, we generalize the previous analysis of signSGD relying on intuitive bounds on success probabilities and allowing even biased estimators. Furthermore, we extend the analysis to parallel setting within a parameter server framework, where exponentially fast noise reduction is guaranteed with respect to number of nodes, maintaining $1$-bit compression in both directions and using small mini-batch sizes. Next, we identify a fundamental issue with signSGD to converge in distributed environment. To resolve this issue, we propose a new sign-based method, {\em Stochastic Sign Descent with Momentum (SSDM)}, which converges under standard bounded variance assumption with the optimal asymptotic rate. We validate several aspects of our theoretical findings with numerical experiments.

**Bias-Variance Reduced Local SGD for Less Heterogeneous Federated Learning**

Tomoya Murata · Taiji Suzuki

Recently, local SGD has got much attention and been extensively studied in the distributed learning community to overcome the communication bottleneck problem. However, the superiority of local SGD to minibatch SGD only holds in quite limited situations. In this paper, we study a new local algorithm called Bias-Variance Reduced Local SGD (BVR-L-SGD) for nonconvex distributed optimization. Algorithmically, our proposed bias and variance reduced local gradient estimator fully utilizes small second-order heterogeneity of local objectives and suggests randomly picking up one of the local models instead of taking the average of them when workers are synchronized. Theoretically, under small heterogeneity of local objectives, we show that BVR-L-SGD achieves better communication complexity than both the previous non-local and local methods under mild conditions, and particularly BVR-L-SGD is the first method that breaks the barrier of communication complexity $\Theta(1/\varepsilon)$ for general nonconvex smooth objectives when the heterogeneity is small and the local computation budget is large. Numerical results are given to verify the theoretical findings and give empirical evidence of the superiority of our method.

**A Hybrid Variance-Reduced Method for Decentralized Stochastic Non-Convex Optimization**

Ran Xin · Usman Khan · Soummya Kar

This paper considers decentralized stochastic optimization over a network of $n$ nodes, where each node possesses a smooth non-convex local cost function and the goal of the networked nodes is to find an $\epsilon$-accurate first-order stationary point of the sum of the local costs. We focus on an online setting, where each node accesses its local cost only by means of a stochastic first-order oracle that returns a noisy version of the exact gradient. In this context, we propose a novel single-loop decentralized hybrid variance-reduced stochastic gradient method, called GT-HSGD, that outperforms the existing approaches in terms of both the oracle complexity and practical implementation. The GT-HSGD algorithm implements specialized local hybrid stochastic gradient estimators that are fused over the network to track the global gradient. Remarkably, GT-HSGD achieves a network topology-independent oracle complexity of $O(n^{-1}\epsilon^{-3})$ when the required error tolerance $\epsilon$ is small enough, leading to a linear speedup with respect to the centralized optimal online variance-reduced approaches that operate on a single node. Numerical experiments are provided to illustrate our main technical results.

**Asynchronous Decentralized Optimization With Implicit Stochastic Variance Reduction**

Kenta Niwa · Guoqiang Zhang · W. Bastiaan Kleijn · Noboru Harada · Hiroshi Sawada · Akinori Fujino

A novel asynchronous decentralized optimization method that follows Stochastic Variance Reduction (SVR) is proposed. Average consensus algorithms, such as Decentralized Stochastic Gradient Descent (DSGD), facilitate distributed training of machine learning models. However, the gradient will drift within the local nodes due to statistical heterogeneity of the subsets of data residing on the nodes and long communication intervals. To overcome the drift problem, (i) Gradient Tracking-SVR (GT-SVR) integrates SVR into DSGD and (ii) Edge-Consensus Learning (ECL) solves a model constrained minimization problem using a primal-dual formalism. In this paper, we reformulate the update procedure of ECL such that it implicitly includes the gradient modification of SVR by optimally selecting a constraint-strength control parameter. Through convergence analysis and experiments, we confirmed that the proposed ECL with Implicit SVR (ECL-ISVR) is stable and approximately reaches the reference performance obtained with computation on a single-node using full data set.

**Newton Method over Networks is Fast up to the Statistical Precision**

Amir Daneshmand · Gesualdo Scutari · Pavel Dvurechenskii · Alexander Gasnikov

We propose a distributed cubic regularization of the Newton method for solving (constrained) empirical risk minimization problems over a network of agents, modeled as undirected graph. The algorithm employs an inexact, preconditioned Newton step at each agent's side: the gradient of the centralized loss is iteratively estimated via a gradient-tracking consensus mechanism and the Hessian is subsampled over the local data sets. No Hessian matrices are exchanged over the network. We derive global complexity bounds for convex and strongly convex losses. Our analysis reveals an interesting interplay between sample and iteration/communication complexity: statistically accurate solutions are achievable in roughly the same number of iterations of the centralized cubic Newton, with a communication cost per iteration of the order of $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}\big(1/\sqrt{1-\rho}\big)$, where $\rho$ characterizes the connectivity of the network. This represents a significant improvement with respect to existing, statistically oblivious, distributed Newton-based methods over networks.

**Federated Learning under Arbitrary Communication Patterns**

Dmitrii Avdiukhin · Shiva Kasiviswanathan

Federated Learning is a distributed learning setting where the goal is to train a centralized model with training data distributed over a large number of heterogeneous clients, each with unreliable and relatively slow network connections. A common optimization approach used in federated learning is based on the idea of local SGD: each client runs some number of SGD steps locally and then the updated local models are averaged to form the updated global model on the coordinating server. In this paper, we investigate the performance of an asynchronous version of local SGD wherein the clients can communicate with the server at arbitrary time intervals. Our main result shows that for smooth strongly convex and smooth nonconvex functions we achieve convergence rates that match the synchronous version that requires all clients to communicate simultaneously.