Stanford Infolab


Fast parallel code generation for data analytics frameworks. Developed at Stanford University.


This page lists the abstracts, papers, and code of some academic research projects and publications from the group at Stanford that is developing Weld.

Weld: A Common Runtime for Data Analytics

by the Weld developers.

Research Abstract: Modern analytics applications combine multiple functions from different libraries and frameworks to build increasingly complex workflows. Even though each function may achieve high performance in isolation, the performance of the combined workflow is often an order of magnitude below hardware limits due to extensive data movement across the functions. To address this problem, we propose Weld, a runtime for data-intensive applications that optimizes across disjoint libraries and functions. Weld uses a common intermediate representation to capture the structure of diverse data-parallel workloads, including SQL, machine learning and graph analytics. It then performs key data movement optimizations and generates efficient parallel code for the whole workflow. Weld can be integrated incrementally into existing frameworks like TensorFlow, Apache Spark, NumPy and Pandas without changing their user-facing APIs. We show that Weld can speed up these frameworks, as well as applications that combine them, by up to 30x.

PipeDream: Generalized Pipeline Parallelism for DNN Training

by Deepak Narayanan, Aaron Harlap, Amar Phanishayee, Vivek Seshadri, Nikhil R. Devanur, Gregory R. Ganger, Phillip B. Gibbons, and Matei Zaharia.

Research Abstract: DNN training is extremely time-consuming, necessitating efficient multi-accelerator parallelization. Current approaches to parallelizing training primarily use intra-batch parallelization, where a single iteration of training is split over the available workers, but suffer from diminishing returns at higher worker counts. We present PipeDream, a system that adds inter-batch pipelining to intra-batch parallelism to further improve parallel training throughput, helping to better overlap computation with communication and reduce the amount of communication when possible. Unlike traditional pipelining, DNN training is bi-directional, where a forward passthrough the computation graph is followed by a backward pass that uses state and intermediate data computed during the forward pass. Naïve pipelining can thus result in mismatches in state versions used in the forward and backward passes, or excessive pipeline flushes and lower hardware efficiency. To address these challenges, PipeDream versions model parameters for numerically correct gradient computations, and schedules forward and backward passes of different minibatches concurrently on different workers with minimal pipeline stalls. PipeDream also automatically partitions DNN layers among workers to balance work and minimize communication. Extensive experimentation with a range of DNN tasks, models, and hardware configurations shows that PipeDream trains models to high accuracy up to 5.3x faster than commonly used intra-batch parallelism techniques.

Sparser: Optimizing I/O Pipelines by Filtering Raw Bytestreams

by Shoumik Palkar, Firas Abuzaid, Peter Bailis, and Matei Zaharia

Research Abstract: Exploratory big data applications often run on raw unstructured or semi-structured data formats, such as JSON files or text logs. These applications can spend 80-90% of their execution time parsing the data. We propose a new approach for reducing this overhead: apply filters on the data’s raw bytestream before parsing. This technique, which we call raw filtering, leverages the features of modern hardware and the high selectivity of queries found in many exploratory applications. With raw filtering, a user-specified query predicate is compiled into a set of filtering primitives called raw filters (RFs). RFs are fast, SIMD-based operators that occasionally yield false positives, but never false negatives. We combine multiple RFs into an RF cascade to decrease the false positive rate and maximize parsing throughput. Because the best RF cascade is data-dependent, we propose an optimizer that dynamically selects the combination of RFs with the best expected throughput, achieving within 10% of the global optimum cascade while adding less than 1.2% overhead. We implement these techniques in a system called Sparser, which automatically manages a parsing cascade given a data stream in a supported format (e.g., JSON, Avro, Parquet) and a user query. We show that many real-world applications are highly selective and benefit from Sparser. Across diverse workloads, Sparser accelerates state-of-the-art parsers such as Mison by up to 22x and improves end-to-end application performance by up to 9x.

Split Annotations: Optimizing Data-Intensive Computations in Existing Libraries

by Shoumik Palkar and Matei Zaharia

Research Abstract: Data movement between main memory and the CPU is a major bottleneck in parallel data-intensive applications. In response, researchers have proposed using compilers and intermediate representations (IRs) that apply optimizations such as loop fusion under existing high-level APIs such as NumPy and TensorFlow. Even though these techniques generally do not require changes to user applications, they require intrusive changes to the library itself: often, library developers must rewrite each function using a new IR. We propose a new technique called split annotations (SAs) that enables key data movement optimizations over unmodified library functions. SAs only require developers to annotate functions and implement an API that specifies how to partition data in the library. The annotation and API describe how to enable cross-function data pipelining and parallelization, while respecting each function’s correctness constraints. We implement a parallel runtime for SAs in a system called Mozart. We show that Mozart can accelerate workloads in libraries such as Intel MKL and Pandas by up to 15×, with no library modifications. Mozart also provides performance gains competitive with solutions that require rewriting libraries, and can sometimes outperform these systems by up to 2x by leveraging existing hand-optimized code.

Willump: A Statistically-Aware Optimizer For ML Inference

by Peter Kraft, Daniel Kang, Deepak Narayanan, Shoumik Palkar, Matei Zaharia, and Peter Bailis.

Research abstract: Systems for performing ML inference are widely deployed today. However, they typically use techniques designed for conventional data serving workloads, missing critical opportunities to leverage the statistical nature of ML inference. We present Willump, an optimizer for ML inference that introduces two statistically-motivated optimizations targeting ML applications whose performance bottleneck is feature computation. First, Willump automatically cascades feature computation. Willump classifies most data inputs using only high-value, low-cost features selected by a cost model that makes use of empirical observations of ML model performance, improving performance by up to 5× without statistically significant accuracy loss. Second, Willump accurately approximates ML top-K queries, discarding low-scoring inputs with an automatically constructed approximate model and then ranking the remainder with a more powerful model, improving performance by up to 10× with minimal accuracy loss. Both optimizations automatically tune their own parameters to maximize performance while meeting a target accuracy level. Willump combines these novel optimizations with compiler optimizations to automatically generate fast inference code for ML applications. We show that Willump improves the end-to-end performance of real-world ML inference pipelines curated from major data science competitions by up to 16× without statistically significant loss of accuracy.