tf.data.experimental.service.distribute

A transformation that moves dataset processing to the tf.data service.

When you iterate over a dataset containing the distribute transformation, the tf.data service creates a "job" which produces data for the dataset iteration.

The processing_mode argument controls what data is produced by a tf.data service job. Currently, the only supported mode is "parallel_epochs".

processing_mode="parallel_epochs" means that multiple tf.data workers will iterate through the dataset in parallel, each producing all elements of the dataset. For example, if the dataset contains {0, 1, 2}, every tf.data worker used for execution will produce {0, 1, 2}. If there are 3 workers, the job will produce the elements {0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2} (though not necessarily in that order). To account for this, it is recommended to randomly shuffle your dataset, so that different tf.data workers will iterate through the dataset in different orders.

In the future, there will be additional processing modes. For example, a "one_epoch" mode which partitions the dataset across the tf.data workers, so that the consumers see each element of the dataset only once.

dataset = tf.data.Dataset.range(5)
dataset = dataset.map(lambda x: x*x)
dataset = dataset.apply(
    tf.data.experimental.service.distribute("parallel_epochs",
                                            "grpc://dataservice:5000"))
dataset = dataset.map(lambda x: x+1)

for element in dataset:
  print(element)  # prints { 1, 2, 5, 10, 17 }

In the above example, the first two lines (before the call to distribute) will be executed on tf.data workers, and the elements provided over RPC. The remaining transformations (after the call to distribute) will be executed locally.

The job_name argument allows jobs to be shared across multiple datasets. Instead of each dataset creating its own job, all datasets with the same job_name will consume from the same job. A new job will be created for each iteration of the dataset (with each repetition of Dataset.repeat counting as a new iteration). Suppose two training workers (in either a single client or multi-client setup) iterate over the below dataset, and there is a single tf.data worker:

range5_dataset = tf.data.Dataset.range(5)
dataset = range5_dataset.apply(tf.data.experimental.service.distribute(
    "parallel_epochs", "grpc://dataservice:5000", job_name="my_job_name"))
for iteration in range(3):
  print(list(dataset))

The elements of each job will be split between the two processes, with elements being consumed by the processes on a first-come first-served basis. One possible result is that process 1 prints

[0, 2, 4]
[0, 1, 3]
[1]

and process 2 prints

[1, 3]
[2, 4]
[0, 2, 3, 4]

Job names must not be re-used across different training jobs within the lifetime of the tf.data service. In general, the tf.data service is expected to live for the duration of a single training job. To use the tf.data service with multiple training jobs, make sure to use different job names to avoid conflicts. For example, suppose a training job calls distribute with job_name="job" and reads until end of input. If another independent job connects to the same tf.data service and tries to read from job_name="job", it will immediately receive end of input, without getting any data.

Keras and Distribution Strategies

The dataset produced by the distribute transformation can be passed to Keras' Model.fit or Distribution Strategy's tf.distribute.Strategy.experimental_distribute_dataset like any other tf.data.Dataset. We recommend setting a job_name on the call to distribute so that if there are multiple workers, they read data from the same job. Note that the autosharding normally performed by experimental_distribute_dataset will be disabled when setting a job_name, since sharing the job already results in splitting data across the workers. When using a shared job, data will be dynamically balanced across workers, so that they reach end of input about the same time. This results in better worker utilization than with autosharding, where each worker processes an independent set of files, and some workers may run out of data earlier than others.

processing_mode A string specifying the policy for how data should be processed by tf.data workers. Currently, the only supported value is "parallel_epochs".
service A string indicating how to connect to the tf.data service. The string should be in the format ://
, e.g. grpc://localhost:5000.
job_name (Optional.) The name of the job. This argument makes it possible for multiple datasets to share the same job. The default behavior is that the dataset creates anonymous, exclusively owned jobs.
max_outstanding_requests (Optional.) A limit on how many elements may be requested at the same time. You can use this option to control the amount of memory used, since distribute won't use more than element_size * max_outstanding_requests of memory.

Dataset A Dataset of the elements produced by the data service.