What is Horovod?

Review of distributed training framework for TensorFlow, developed by Uber
20 October 2017   674

What is Horovod?

Horovod is a distributed training framework for TensorFlow. The goal of Horovod is to make distributed Deep Learning fast and easy to use.

Why not traditional Distributed TensorFlow?

The primary motivation for this project is to make it easy to take a single-GPU TensorFlow program and successfully train it on many GPUs faster. This has two aspects:

  1. How much modifications does one have to make to a program to make it distributed, and how easy is it to run it.
  2. How much faster would it run in distributed mode?

Internally at Uber we found that it's much easier for people to understand an MPI model that requires minimal changes to source code than to understand how to set up regular Distributed TensorFlow.

To give some perspective on that, this commit into our fork of TF Benchmarks shows how much code can be removed if one doesn't need to worry about towers and manually averaging gradients across them, tf.Server()tf.ClusterSpec()tf.train.SyncReplicasOptimizer()tf.train.replicas_device_setter() and so on. If none of these things makes sense to you - don't worry, you don't have to learn them if you use Horovod.

In addition to being easy to use, Horovod is fast. Below is a chart representing the benchmark that was done on 32 servers with 4 Pascal GPUs each connected by RoCE-capable 25 Gbit/s network:

Horovod Benchmark
Horovod Benchmark

Horovod achieves 90% scaling efficiency for both Inception V3 and ResNet-101, and 79% scaling efficiency for VGG-16.

While installing MPI and NCCL itself may seem like an extra hassle, it only needs to be done once by the team dealing with infrastructure, while everyone else in the company who builds the models can enjoy the simplicity of training them at scale.

Learn more at GitHub.

What is YAPF?

A formatter for Python files, developed by Google team
30 October 2017   435

What is YAPF?

Most of the current formatters for Python --- e.g., autopep8, and pep8ify --- are made to remove lint errors from code. This has some obvious limitations. For instance, code that conforms to the PEP 8 guidelines may not be reformatted. But it doesn't mean that the code looks good.

YAPF takes a different approach. It's based off of 'clang-format', developed by Daniel Jasper. In essence, the algorithm takes the code and reformats it to the best formatting that conforms to the style guide, even if the original code didn't violate the style guide. The idea is also similar to the 'gofmt' tool for the Go programming language: end all holy wars about formatting - if the whole codebase of a project is simply piped through YAPF whenever modifications are made, the style remains consistent throughout the project and there's no point arguing about style in every code review.

The ultimate goal is that the code YAPF produces is as good as the code that a programmer would write if they were following the style guide. It takes away some of the drudgery of maintaining your code.

Code examples

YAPF takes this code:

x = {  'a':37,'b':42,


y = 'hello ''world'
z = 'hello '+'world'
a = 'hello {}'.format('world')
class foo  (     object  ):
  def f    (self   ):
    return       37*-+2
  def g(self, x,y=42):
      return y
def f  (   a ) :
  return      37+-+a[42-x :  y**3]

and reformat it into:

x = {'a': 37, 'b': 42, 'c': 927}

y = 'hello ' 'world'
z = 'hello ' + 'world'
a = 'hello {}'.format('world')

class foo(object):
    def f(self):
        return 37 * -+2

    def g(self, x, y=42):
        return y

def f(a):
    return 37 + -+a[42 - x:y**3]

See GitHub for more information.