Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)
Tianyi Chen, Georgios Giannakis, Tao Sun, Wotao Yin
This paper presents a new class of gradient methods for distributed machine learning that adaptively skip the gradient calculations to learn with reduced communication and computation. Simple rules are designed to detect slowly-varying gradients and, therefore, trigger the reuse of outdated gradients. The resultant gradient-based algorithms are termed Lazily Aggregated Gradient --- justifying our acronym LAG used henceforth. Theoretically, the merits of this contribution are: i) the convergence rate is the same as batch gradient descent in strongly-convex, convex, and nonconvex cases; and, ii) if the distributed datasets are heterogeneous (quantified by certain measurable constants), the communication rounds needed to achieve a targeted accuracy are reduced thanks to the adaptive reuse of lagged gradients. Numerical experiments on both synthetic and real data corroborate a significant communication reduction compared to alternatives.