Loss of packets in video conferencing often results in poor quality and video freezing. Attempting to retransmit the lost packets is usually not practical due to the requirement for real-time playback. Using Forward Error Correction (FEC) to recover the lost packets is challenging since it is difficult to determine the appropriate level of redundancy. In this paper, we propose a framework called Reparo for creating loss-resilient video conferencing using generative deep learning models. Our approach involves generating missing information when a frame or part of a frame is lost. This generation is conditioned on the data received so far, and the model's knowledge of how people look, dress, and interact in the visual world. Our experiments on publicly available video conferencing datasets show that Reparo outperforms state-of-the-art FEC-based video conferencing in terms of both video quality (measured by PSNR) and video freezes.
We study counterfactual identifiability in causal models with bijective generation mechanisms (BGM), a class that generalizes several widely-used causal models in the literature. We establish their counterfactual identifiability for three common causal structures with unobserved confounding, and propose a practical learning method that casts learning a BGM as structured generative modeling. Learned BGMs enable efficient counterfactual estimation and can be obtained using a variety of deep conditional generative models. We evaluate our techniques in a visual task and demonstrate its application in a real-world video streaming simulation task.
We study online Reinforcement Learning (RL) in non-stationary input-driven environments, where a time-varying exogenous input process affects the environment dynamics. Online RL is challenging in such environments due to catastrophic forgetting (CF). The agent tends to forget prior knowledge as it trains on new experiences. Prior approaches to mitigate this issue assume task labels (which are often not available in practice) or use off-policy methods that can suffer from instability and poor performance. We present Locally Constrained Policy Optimization (LCPO), an on-policy RL approach that combats CF by anchoring policy outputs on old experiences while optimizing the return on current experiences. To perform this anchoring, LCPO locally constrains policy optimization using samples from experiences that lie outside of the current input distribution. We evaluate LCPO in two gym and computer systems environments with a variety of synthetic and real input traces, and find that it outperforms state-of-the-art on-policy and off-policy RL methods in the online setting, while achieving results on-par with an offline agent pre-trained on the whole input trace.
* 8 pages + 4 pages in the appendix, 9 Figures and 5 Tables
Cardinality estimation is one of the most fundamental and challenging problems in query optimization. Neither classical nor learning-based methods yield satisfactory performance when estimating the cardinality of the join queries. They either rely on simplified assumptions leading to ineffective cardinality estimates or build large models to understand the data distributions, leading to long planning times and a lack of generalizability across queries. In this paper, we propose a new framework FactorJoin for estimating join queries. FactorJoin combines the idea behind the classical join-histogram method to efficiently handle joins with the learning-based methods to accurately capture attribute correlation. Specifically, FactorJoin scans every table in a DB and builds single-table conditional distributions during an offline preparation phase. When a join query comes, FactorJoin translates it into a factor graph model over the learned distributions to effectively and efficiently estimate its cardinality. Unlike existing learning-based methods, FactorJoin does not need to de-normalize joins upfront or require executed query workloads to train the model. Since it only relies on single-table statistics, FactorJoin has small space overhead and is extremely easy to train and maintain. In our evaluation, FactorJoin can produce more effective estimates than the previous state-of-the-art learning-based methods, with 40x less estimation latency, 100x smaller model size, and 100x faster training speed at comparable or better accuracy. In addition, FactorJoin can estimate 10,000 sub-plan queries within one second to optimize the query plan, which is very close to the traditional cardinality estimators in commercial DBMS.
Video conferencing systems suffer from poor user experience when network conditions deteriorate because current video codecs simply cannot operate at extremely low bitrates. Recently, several neural alternatives have been proposed that reconstruct talking head videos at very low bitrates using sparse representations of each frame such as facial landmark information. However, these approaches produce poor reconstructions in scenarios with major movement or occlusions over the course of a call, and do not scale to higher resolutions. We design Gemino, a new neural compression system for video conferencing based on a novel high-frequency-conditional super-resolution pipeline. Gemino upsamples a very low-resolution version of each target frame while enhancing high-frequency details (e.g., skin texture, hair, etc.) based on information extracted from a single high-resolution reference image. We use a multi-scale architecture that runs different components of the model at different resolutions, allowing it to scale to resolutions comparable to 720p, and we personalize the model to learn specific details of each person, achieving much better fidelity at low bitrates. We implement Gemino atop aiortc, an open-source Python implementation of WebRTC, and show that it operates on 1024x1024 videos in real-time on a A100 GPU, and achieves 2.9x lower bitrate than traditional video codecs for the same perceptual quality.
Recent research has turned to Reinforcement Learning (RL) to solve challenging decision problems, as an alternative to hand-tuned heuristics. RL can learn good policies without the need for modeling the environment's dynamics. Despite this promise, RL remains an impractical solution for many real-world systems problems. A particularly challenging case occurs when the environment changes over time, i.e. it exhibits non-stationarity. In this work, we characterize the challenges introduced by non-stationarity and develop a framework for addressing them to train RL agents in live systems. Such agents must explore and learn new environments, without hurting the system's performance, and remember them over time. To this end, our framework (1) identifies different environments encountered by the live system, (2) explores and trains a separate expert policy for each environment, and (3) employs safeguards to protect the system's performance. We apply our framework to two systems problems: straggler mitigation and adaptive video streaming, and evaluate it against a variety of alternative approaches using real-world and synthetic data. We show that each component of our framework is necessary to cope with non-stationarity.
Evaluating the real-world performance of network protocols is challenging. Randomized control trials (RCT) are expensive and inaccessible to most researchers, while expert-designed simulators fail to capture complex behaviors in real networks. We present CausalSim, a data-driven simulator for network protocols that addresses this challenge. Learning network behavior from observational data is complicated due to the bias introduced by the protocols used during data collection. CausalSim uses traces from an initial RCT under a set of protocols to learn a causal network model, effectively removing the biases present in the data. Using this model, CausalSim can then simulate any protocol over the same traces (i.e., for counterfactual predictions). Key to CausalSim is the novel use of adversarial neural network training that exploits distributional invariances that are present due to the training data coming from an RCT. Our extensive evaluation of CausalSim on both real and synthetic datasets and two use cases, including more than nine months of real data from the Puffer video streaming system, shows that it provides accurate counterfactual predictions, reducing prediction error by 44% and 53% on average compared to expert-designed and standard supervised learning baselines.
As emerging deep neural network (DNN) models continue to grow in size, using large GPU clusters to train DNNs is becoming an essential requirement to achieving acceptable training times. In this paper, we consider the case where future increases in cluster size will cause the global batch size that can be used to train models to reach a fundamental limit: beyond a certain point, larger global batch sizes cause sample efficiency to degrade, increasing overall time to accuracy. As a result, to achieve further improvements in training performance, we must instead consider "strong scaling" strategies that hold the global batch size constant and allocate smaller batches to each GPU. Unfortunately, this makes it significantly more difficult to use cluster resources efficiently. We present DeepPool, a system that addresses this efficiency challenge through two key ideas. First, burst parallelism allocates large numbers of GPUs to foreground jobs in bursts to exploit the unevenness in parallelism across layers. Second, GPU multiplexing prioritizes throughput for foreground training jobs, while packing in background training jobs to reclaim underutilized GPU resources, thereby improving cluster-wide utilization. Together, these two ideas enable DeepPool to deliver a 2.2 - 2.4x improvement in total cluster throughput over standard data parallelism with a single task when the cluster scale is large.
Accurately maintaining digital street maps is labor-intensive. To address this challenge, much work has studied automatically processing geospatial data sources such as GPS trajectories and satellite images to reduce the cost of maintaining digital maps. An end-to-end map update system would first process geospatial data sources to extract insights, and second leverage those insights to update and improve the map. However, prior work largely focuses on the first step of this pipeline: these map extraction methods infer road networks from scratch given geospatial data sources (in effect creating entirely new maps), but do not address the second step of leveraging this extracted information to update the existing digital map data. In this paper, we first explain why current map extraction techniques yield low accuracy when extended to update existing maps. We then propose a novel method that leverages the progression of satellite imagery over time to substantially improve accuracy. Our approach first compares satellite images captured at different times to identify portions of the physical road network that have visibly changed, and then updates the existing map accordingly. We show that our change-based approach reduces map update error rates four-fold.
This paper studies the problem of allocating tasks from different customers to vehicles in mobility platforms, which are used for applications like food and package delivery, ridesharing, and mobile sensing. A mobility platform should allocate tasks to vehicles and schedule them in order to optimize both throughput and fairness across customers. However, existing approaches to scheduling tasks in mobility platforms ignore fairness. We introduce Mobius, a system that uses guided optimization to achieve both high throughput and fairness across customers. Mobius supports spatiotemporally diverse and dynamic customer demands. It provides a principled method to navigate inherent tradeoffs between fairness and throughput caused by shared mobility. Our evaluation demonstrates these properties, along with the versatility and scalability of Mobius, using traces gathered from ridesharing and aerial sensing applications. Our ridesharing case study shows that Mobius can schedule more than 16,000 tasks across 40 customers and 200 vehicles in an online manner.
* Technical report for paper to appear at ACM MobiSys 2021