GCN meets GPU: Decoupling “When to Sample” from “How to Sample”

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

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Morteza Ramezani, Weilin Cong, Mehrdad Mahdavi, Anand Sivasubramaniam, Mahmut Kandemir


<p>Sampling-based methods promise scalability improvements when paired with stochastic gradient descent in training Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs). While effective in alleviating the neighborhood explosion, due to bandwidth and memory bottlenecks, these methods lead to computational overheads in preprocessing and loading new samples in heterogeneous systems, which significantly deteriorate the sampling performance. By decoupling the frequency of sampling from the sampling strategy, we propose LazyGCN, a general yet effective framework that can be integrated with any sampling strategy to substantially improve the training time. The basic idea behind LazyGCN is to perform sampling periodically and effectively recycle the sampled nodes to mitigate data preparation overhead. We theoretically analyze the proposed algorithm and show that under a mild condition on the recycling size, by reducing the variance of inner layers, we are able to obtain the same convergence rate as the underlying sampling method. We also give corroborating empirical evidence on large real-world graphs, demonstrating that the proposed schema can significantly reduce the number of sampling steps and yield superior speedup without compromising the accuracy.</p>