Practical Low-Rank Communication Compression in Decentralized Deep Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Thijs Vogels, Sai Praneeth Karimireddy, Martin Jaggi


Lossy gradient compression has become a practical tool to overcome the communication bottleneck in centrally coordinated distributed training of machine learning models. However, algorithms for decentralized training with compressed communication over arbitrary connected networks have been more complicated, requiring additional memory and hyperparameters. We introduce a simple algorithm that directly compresses the model differences between neighboring workers using low-rank linear compressors. We prove that our method does not require any additional hyperparameters, converges faster than prior methods, and is asymptotically independent of both the network and the compression. Inspired the PowerSGD algorithm for centralized deep learning, we execute power iteration steps on model differences to maximize the information transferred per bit. Out of the box, these compressors perform on par with state-of-the-art tuned compression algorithms in a series of deep learning benchmarks.