On Communication Compression for Distributed Optimization on Heterogeneous Data

09/04/2020
by   Sebastian U. Stich, et al.
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Lossy gradient compression, with either unbiased or biased compressors, has become a key tool to avoid the communication bottleneck in centrally coordinated distributed training of machine learning models. We analyze the performance of two standard and general types of methods: (i) distributed quantized SGD (D-QSGD) with arbitrary unbiased quantizers and (ii) distributed SGD with error-feedback and biased compressors (D-EF-SGD) in the heterogeneous (non-iid) data setting. Our results indicate that D-EF-SGD is much less affected than D-QSGD by non-iid data, but both methods can suffer a slowdown if data-skewness is high. We propose two alternatives that are not (or much less) affected by heterogenous data distributions: a new method that is only applicable to strongly convex problems, and we point out a more general approach that is applicable to linear compressors.

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