ISyE Department Seminar - Inderjit Dhillon

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm

ISyE Groseclose Room 402


AutoAssist: A Framework to Accelerate Training of Deep Neural Networks


Deep neural networks have yielded superior performance in many contemporary applications. However, the gradient computation in a deep model with millions of instances leads to a lengthy training process even with modern GPU/TPU hardware acceleration. In this talk, I will propose AutoAssist, a simple framework to acceler- ate training of a deep neural network. Typically, as the training procedure evolves, the amount of improvement by a stochastic gradient update varies dynamically with the choice of instances in the mini-batch. In AutoAssist, we utilize this fact and design an instance shrinking operation that is used to filter out instances with relatively low marginal improvement to the current model; thus the computationally intensive gradient computations are performed on informative instances as much as possible. Specifically, we train a very lightweight Assistant model jointly with the original deep network, which we refer to as the Boss. The Assistant model is designed to gauge the importance of a given instance with respect to the current Boss such that the shrinking operation can be applied in the batch generator. With careful design, we train the Boss and Assistant in a nonblocking and asynchronous fashion such that overhead is minimal. To demonstrate the effectiveness of AutoAssist, we conduct experiments on two contemporary applications: image classification using ResNets with varied number of layers, and neural machine translation using LSTMs, ConvS2S and Transformer models. For each application, we verify that AutoAssist leads to significant reduction in training time; in particular, 30% to 40% of the total operation count can be reduced which leads to faster convergence and a corresponding decrease in training time.


Inderjit Dhillon is the Gottesman Family Centennial Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics at UT Austin, where he is also the Director of the ICES Center for Big Data Analytics. Currently he is on leave from UT Austin and heads the Amazon Research Lab in Berkeley, California, where he is developing and deploying state-of-the-art machine learning methods for Amazon Search. His main research interests are in big data, deep learning, machine learning, network analysis, linear algebra and optimization. He received his B.Tech. degree from IIT Bombay, and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. Inderjit has received several awards, including the ICES Distinguished Research Award, the SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize, the Moncrief Grand Challenge Award, the SIAM Linear Algebra Prize, the University Research Excellence Award, and the NSF Career Award. He has published over 200 journal and conference papers, and has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, the IEEE Transactions of Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Foundations and Trends in Machine Learning and the SIAM Journal for Matrix Analysis and Applications. Inderjit is an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, a SIAM Fellow and an AAAS Fellow.