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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

Ionut-Vlad Modoranu, Mher Safaryan, Grigory Malinovsky, Eldar Kurtic, Thomas Robert, Peter Richtarik, Dan Alistarh

We propose a new variant of the Adam optimizer [Kingma and Ba, 2014] called MICROADAM that specifically minimizes memory overheads, while maintaining theoretical convergence guarantees. We achieve this by compressing the gradient information before it is fed into the optimizer state, thereby reducing its memory footprint significantly. We control the resulting compression error via a novel instance of the classical error feedback mechanism from distributed optimization [Seide et al., 2014, Alistarh et al., 2018, Karimireddy et al., 2019] in which the error correction information is itself compressed to allow for practical memory gains. We prove that the resulting approach maintains theoretical convergence guarantees competitive to those of AMSGrad, while providing good practical performance. Specifically, we show that MICROADAM can be implemented efficiently on GPUs: on both million-scale (BERT) and billion-scale (LLaMA) models, MicroAdam provides practical convergence competitive to that of the uncompressed Adam baseline, with lower memory usage and similar running time. Our code is available at https://github.com/IST-DASLab/MicroAdam.

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In this study, we investigate stochastic optimization on Riemannian manifolds, focusing on the crucial variance reduction mechanism used in both Euclidean and Riemannian settings. Riemannian variance-reduced methods usually involve a double-loop structure, computing a full gradient at the start of each loop. Determining the optimal inner loop length is challenging in practice, as it depends on strong convexity or smoothness constants, which are often unknown or hard to estimate. Motivated by Euclidean methods, we introduce the Riemannian Loopless SVRG (R-LSVRG) and PAGE (R-PAGE) methods. These methods replace the outer loop with probabilistic gradient computation triggered by a coin flip in each iteration, ensuring simpler proofs, efficient hyperparameter selection, and sharp convergence guarantees. Using R-PAGE as a framework for non-convex Riemannian optimization, we demonstrate its applicability to various important settings. For example, we derive Riemannian MARINA (R-MARINA) for distributed settings with communication compression, providing the best theoretical communication complexity guarantees for non-convex distributed optimization over Riemannian manifolds. Experimental results support our theoretical findings.

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We introduce a novel optimization problem formulation that departs from the conventional way of minimizing machine learning model loss as a black-box function. Unlike traditional formulations, the proposed approach explicitly incorporates an initially pre-trained model and random sketch operators, allowing for sparsification of both the model and gradient during training. We establish insightful properties of the proposed objective function and highlight its connections to the standard formulation. Furthermore, we present several variants of the Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) method adapted to the new problem formulation, including SGD with general sampling, a distributed version, and SGD with variance reduction techniques. We achieve tighter convergence rates and relax assumptions, bridging the gap between theoretical principles and practical applications, covering several important techniques such as Dropout and Sparse training. This work presents promising opportunities to enhance the theoretical understanding of model training through a sparsification-aware optimization approach.

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Distributed learning has emerged as a leading paradigm for training large machine learning models. However, in real-world scenarios, participants may be unreliable or malicious, posing a significant challenge to the integrity and accuracy of the trained models. Byzantine fault tolerance mechanisms have been proposed to address these issues, but they often assume full participation from all clients, which is not always practical due to the unavailability of some clients or communication constraints. In our work, we propose the first distributed method with client sampling and provable tolerance to Byzantine workers. The key idea behind the developed method is the use of gradient clipping to control stochastic gradient differences in recursive variance reduction. This allows us to bound the potential harm caused by Byzantine workers, even during iterations when all sampled clients are Byzantine. Furthermore, we incorporate communication compression into the method to enhance communication efficiency. Under quite general assumptions, we prove convergence rates for the proposed method that match the existing state-of-the-art (SOTA) theoretical results.

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Federated Learning is a collaborative training framework that leverages heterogeneous data distributed across a vast number of clients. Since it is practically infeasible to request and process all clients during the aggregation step, partial participation must be supported. In this setting, the communication between the server and clients poses a major bottleneck. To reduce communication loads, there are two main approaches: compression and local steps. Recent work by Mishchenko et al. [2022] introduced the new ProxSkip method, which achieves an accelerated rate using the local steps technique. Follow-up works successfully combined local steps acceleration with partial participation [Grudzie\'n et al., 2023, Condat et al. 2023] and gradient compression [Condat et al. [2022]. In this paper, we finally present a complete method for Federated Learning that incorporates all necessary ingredients: Local Training, Compression, and Partial Participation. We obtain state-of-the-art convergence guarantees in the considered setting. Moreover, we analyze the general sampling framework for partial participation and derive an importance sampling scheme, which leads to even better performance. We experimentally demonstrate the advantages of the proposed method in practice.

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Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is arguably the most important single algorithm in modern machine learning. Although SGD with unbiased gradient estimators has been studied extensively over at least half a century, SGD variants relying on biased estimators are rare. Nevertheless, there has been an increased interest in this topic in recent years. However, existing literature on SGD with biased estimators (BiasedSGD) lacks coherence since each new paper relies on a different set of assumptions, without any clear understanding of how they are connected, which may lead to confusion. We address this gap by establishing connections among the existing assumptions, and presenting a comprehensive map of the underlying relationships. Additionally, we introduce a new set of assumptions that is provably weaker than all previous assumptions, and use it to present a thorough analysis of BiasedSGD in both convex and non-convex settings, offering advantages over previous results. We also provide examples where biased estimators outperform their unbiased counterparts or where unbiased versions are simply not available. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework through experimental results that validate our theoretical findings.

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Federated Learning (FL) is a distributed machine learning approach where multiple clients work together to solve a machine learning task. One of the key challenges in FL is the issue of partial participation, which occurs when a large number of clients are involved in the training process. The traditional method to address this problem is randomly selecting a subset of clients at each communication round. In our research, we propose a new technique and design a novel regularized client participation scheme. Under this scheme, each client joins the learning process every $R$ communication rounds, which we refer to as a meta epoch. We have found that this participation scheme leads to a reduction in the variance caused by client sampling. Combined with the popular FedAvg algorithm (McMahan et al., 2017), it results in superior rates under standard assumptions. For instance, the optimization term in our main convergence bound decreases linearly with the product of the number of communication rounds and the size of the local dataset of each client, and the statistical term scales with step size quadratically instead of linearly (the case for client sampling with replacement), leading to better convergence rate $\mathcal{O}\left(\frac{1}{T^2}\right)$ compared to $\mathcal{O}\left(\frac{1}{T}\right)$, where $T$ is the total number of communication rounds. Furthermore, our results permit arbitrary client availability as long as each client is available for training once per each meta epoch.

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In federated learning, a large number of users are involved in a global learning task, in a collaborative way. They alternate local computations and communication with a distant server. Communication, which can be slow and costly, is the main bottleneck in this setting. To accelerate distributed gradient descent, the popular strategy of local training is to communicate less frequently; that is, to perform several iterations of local computations between the communication steps. A recent breakthrough in this field was made by Mishchenko et al. (2022): their Scaffnew algorithm is the first to probably benefit from local training, with accelerated communication complexity. However, it was an open and challenging question to know whether the powerful mechanism behind Scaffnew would be compatible with partial participation, the desirable feature that not all clients need to participate to every round of the training process. We answer this question positively and propose a new algorithm, which handles local training and partial participation, with state-of-the-art communication complexity.

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The celebrated FedAvg algorithm of McMahan et al. (2017) is based on three components: client sampling (CS), data sampling (DS) and local training (LT). While the first two are reasonably well understood, the third component, whose role is to reduce the number of communication rounds needed to train the model, resisted all attempts at a satisfactory theoretical explanation. Malinovsky et al. (2022) identified four distinct generations of LT methods based on the quality of the provided theoretical communication complexity guarantees. Despite a lot of progress in this area, none of the existing works were able to show that it is theoretically better to employ multiple local gradient-type steps (i.e., to engage in LT) than to rely on a single local gradient-type step only in the important heterogeneous data regime. In a recent breakthrough embodied in their ProxSkip method and its theoretical analysis, Mishchenko et al. (2022) showed that LT indeed leads to provable communication acceleration for arbitrarily heterogeneous data, thus jump-starting the $5^{\rm th}$ generation of LT methods. However, while these latest generation LT methods are compatible with DS, none of them support CS. We resolve this open problem in the affirmative. In order to do so, we had to base our algorithmic development on new algorithmic and theoretical foundations.

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In this paper we study the smooth strongly convex minimization problem $\min_{x}\min_y f(x,y)$. The existing optimal first-order methods require $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\max\{\kappa_x,\kappa_y\}} \log 1/\epsilon)$ of computations of both $\nabla_x f(x,y)$ and $\nabla_y f(x,y)$, where $\kappa_x$ and $\kappa_y$ are condition numbers with respect to variable blocks $x$ and $y$. We propose a new algorithm that only requires $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\kappa_x} \log 1/\epsilon)$ of computations of $\nabla_x f(x,y)$ and $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\kappa_y} \log 1/\epsilon)$ computations of $\nabla_y f(x,y)$. In some applications $\kappa_x \gg \kappa_y$, and computation of $\nabla_y f(x,y)$ is significantly cheaper than computation of $\nabla_x f(x,y)$. In this case, our algorithm substantially outperforms the existing state-of-the-art methods.

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