Faster Boosting with Smaller Memory

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Julaiti Alafate, Yoav S. Freund


State-of-the-art implementations of boosting, such as XGBoost and LightGBM, can process large training sets extremely fast. However, this performance requires that the memory size is sufficient to hold a 2-3 multiple of the training set size. This paper presents an alternative approach to implementing the boosted trees, which achieves a significant speedup over XGBoost and LightGBM, especially when the memory size is small. This is achieved using a combination of three techniques: early stopping, effective sample size, and stratified sampling. Our experiments demonstrate a 10-100 speedup over XGBoost when the training data is too large to fit in memory.