Can Karakus, Yifan Sun, Suhas Diggavi, Wotao Yin
Slow running or straggler tasks can significantly reduce computation speed in distributed computation. Recently, coding-theory-inspired approaches have been applied to mitigate the effect of straggling, through embedding redundancy in certain linear computational steps of the optimization algorithm, thus completing the computation without waiting for the stragglers. In this paper, we propose an alternate approach where we embed the redundancy directly in the data itself, and allow the computation to proceed completely oblivious to encoding. We propose several encoding schemes, and demonstrate that popular batch algorithms, such as gradient descent and L-BFGS, applied in a coding-oblivious manner, deterministically achieve sample path linear convergence to an approximate solution of the original problem, using an arbitrarily varying subset of the nodes at each iteration. Moreover, this approximation can be controlled by the amount of redundancy and the number of nodes used in each iteration. We provide experimental results demonstrating the advantage of the approach over uncoded and data replication strategies.