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Distributed Execution of Recursive Irregular Applications

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posted on 13.08.2019 by Nikhil Hegde
Massive computing power and applications running on this power, primarily confined to expensive supercomputers a decade ago, have now become mainstream through the availability of clusters with commodity computers and high-speed interconnects running big-data era applications. The challenges associated with programming such systems, for effectively utilizing the computing power, have led to the creation of intuitive abstractions and implementations targeting average users, domain experts, and savvy (parallel) programmers. There is often a trade-off between the ease of programming and performance when using these abstractions. This thesis develops tools to bridge the gap between ease of programming and performance of irregular programs—programs that involve one or more of irregular- data structures, control structures, and communication patterns—on distributed-memory systems.

Irregular programs are focused heavily in domains ranging from data mining to bioinformatics to scientific computing. In contrast to regular applications such as stencil codes and dense matrix-matrix multiplications, which have a predictable pattern of data access and control flow, typical irregular applications operate over graphs, trees, and sparse matrices and involve input-dependent data access pattern and control flow. This makes it difficult to apply optimizations such as those targeting locality and parallelism to programs implementing irregular applications. Moreover, irregular programs are often used with large data sets that prohibit single-node execution due to memory limitations on the node. Hence, distributed solutions are necessary in order to process all the data.

In this thesis, we introduce SPIRIT, a framework consisting of an abstraction and a space-adaptive runtime system for simplifying the creation of distributed implementations of recursive irregular programs based on spatial acceleration structures. SPIRIT addresses the insufficiency of traditional data-parallel approaches and existing systems in effectively parallelizing computations involving repeated tree traversals. SPIRIT employs locality optimizations applied in a shared-memory context, introduces a novel pipeline-parallel approach to execute distributed traversals, and trades-off performance with memory usage to create a space-adaptive system that achieves a scalable performance, and outperforms implementations done in contemporary distributed graph processing frameworks.

We next introduce Treelogy to understand the connection between optimizations and tree-algorithms. Treelogy provides an ontology and a benchmark suite of a broader class of tree algorithms to help answer: (i) is there any existing optimization that is applicable or effective for a new tree algorithm? (ii) can a new optimization developed for a tree algorithm be applied to existing tree algorithms from other domains? We show that a categorization (ontology) based on structural properties of tree- algorithms is useful for both developers of new optimizations and new tree algorithm creators. With the help of a suite of tree traversal kernels spanning the ontology, we show that GPU, shared-, and distributed-memory implementations are scalable and the two-point correlation algorithm with vptree performs better than the standard kdtree implementation.

In the final part of the thesis, we explore the possibility of automatically generating efficient distributed-memory implementations of irregular programs. As manually creating distributed-memory implementations is challenging due to the explicit need for managing tasks, parallelism, communication, and load-balancing, we introduce a framework, D2P, to automatically generate efficient distributed implementations of recursive divide-conquer algorithms. D2P automatically generates a distributed implementation of a recursive divide-conquer algorithm from its specification, which is a high-level outline of a recursive formulation. We evaluate D2P with recursive Dynamic programming (DP) algorithms. The computation in DP algorithms is not irregular per se. However, when distributed, the computation in efficient recursive formulations of DP algorithms requires irregular communication. User-configurable knobs in D2P allow for tuning the amount of available parallelism. Results show that D2P programs scale well, are significantly better than those produced using a state-of-the-art framework for parallelizing iterative DP algorithms, and outperform even hand-written distributed-memory implementations in most cases.


NSF CCF-1150013

DOE DE-SC0010295



Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Milind Kulkarni

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Samuel P. Midkiff

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Y. Charlie Hu

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Anand Raghunathan



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