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tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy

An multi-worker tf.distribute strategy with parameter servers.

Inherits From: Strategy

Used in the notebooks

Used in the tutorials

Parameter server training is a common data-parallel method to scale up a machine learning model on multiple machines. A parameter server training cluster consists of workers and parameter servers. Variables are created on parameter servers and they are read and updated by workers in each step. By default, workers read and update these variables independently without synchronizing with each other. Under this configuration, it is known as asynchronous training.

In TensorFlow 2, we recommend a central coordiantion-based architecture for parameter server training, where workers and parameter servers run a tf.distribute.Server and there is another task that creates resources on workers and parameter servers, dispatches functions, and coordinates the training. We refer to this task as “coordinator”. The coordinator uses a tf.distribute.experimental.coordinator.ClusterCoordinator to coordinate the cluster, and a tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy to define variables on parameter servers and computation on workers.

For the training to work, the coordinator dispatches tf.functions to be executed on remote workers. Upon receiving requests from the coordinator, a worker executes the tf.function by reading the variables from parameter servers, executing the ops, and updating the variables on the parameter servers. Each of the worker only processes the requests from the coordinator, and communicates with parameter servers, without direct interactions with other workers in the cluster.

As a result, failures of some workers do not prevent the cluster from continuing the work, and this allows the cluster to train with instances that can be occasionally unavailable (e.g. preemptible or spot instances). The coordinator and parameter servers though, must be available at all times for the cluster to make progress.

Note that the coordinator is not one of the training workers. Instead, it creates resources such as variables and datasets, dispatchs tf.functions, saving checkpoints and so on. In addition to workers, parameter servers and the coordinator, an optional evaluator can be run on the side that periodically reads the checkpoints saved by the coordinator and runs evaluations against each checkpoint.

tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy has to work in conjunction with a tf.distribute.experimental.coordinator.ClusterCoordinator object. Standalone usage of tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy without central coordination is not supported at this time.

Example code for coordinator

Here's an example usage of the API, with a custom training loop to train a model. This code snippet is intended to be run on (the only) one task that is designated as the coordinator. Note that cluster_resolver, variable_partitioner, and dataset_fn arguments are explained in the following "Cluster setup", "Variable partitioning", and "Dataset preparation" sections.

# Set the environment variable to allow reporting worker and ps failure to the
# coordinator. This a short-term workaround.
os.environ["GRPC_FAIL_FAST"] = "use_caller"

# Prepare a strategy to use with the cluster and variable partitioning info.
strategy = tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy(
    cluster_resolver=...,
    variable_partitioner=...)
coordinator = tf.distribute.experimental.coordinator.ClusterCoordinator(
    strategy=strategy)

# Prepare a distribute dataset that will place datasets on the workers.
distributed_dataset = coordinator.create_per_worker_dataset(dataset_fn=...)

with strategy.scope():
  model = ...
  optimizer, metrics = ...  # Keras optimizer/metrics are great choices
  checkpoint = tf.train.Checkpoint(model=model, optimizer=optimizer)
  checkpoint_manager = tf.train.CheckpointManager(
      checkpoint, checkpoint_dir, max_to_keep=2)
  # `load_checkpoint` infers initial epoch from `optimizer.iterations`.
  initial_epoch = load_checkpoint(checkpoint_manager) or 0

@tf.function
def worker_fn(iterator):

  def replica_fn(inputs):
    batch_data, labels = inputs
    # calculate gradient, applying gradient, metrics update etc.

  strategy.run(replica_fn, args=(next(iterator),))

for epoch in range(initial_epoch, num_epoch):
  distributed_iterator = iter(distributed_dataset)  # Reset iterator state.
  for step in range(steps_per_epoch):

    # Asynchronously schedule the `worker_fn` to be executed on an arbitrary
    # worker. This call returns immediately.
    coordinator.schedule(worker_fn, args=(distributed_iterator,))

  # `join` blocks until all scheduled `worker_fn`s finish execution. Once it
  # returns, we can read the metrics and save checkpoints as needed.
  coordinator.join()
  logging.info('Metric result: %r', metrics.result())
  train_accuracy.reset_states()
  checkpoint_manager.save()

Example code for worker and parameter servers

In addition to the coordinator, there should be tasks designated as "worker" or "ps". They should run the following code to start a TensorFlow server, waiting for coordinator's requests:

# Set the environment variable to allow reporting worker and ps failure to the
# coordinator.
os.environ["GRPC_FAIL_FAST"] = "use_caller"

# Provide a `tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver` that serves
# the cluster information. See below "Cluster setup" section.
cluster_resolver = ...

server = tf.distribute.Server(
    cluster_resolver.cluster_spec(),
    job_name=cluster_resolver.task_type,
    task_index=cluster_resolver.task_id,
    protocol="grpc")

# Blocking the process that starts a server from exiting.
server.join()

Cluster setup

In order for the tasks in the cluster to know other tasks' addresses, a tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver is required to be used in coordinator, worker, and ps. The tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver is responsible for providing the cluster information, as well as the task type and id of the current task. See tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver for more information.

If TF_CONFIG environment variable is set, a tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.TFConfigClusterResolver should be used as well. Note that for legacy reason, on some platform, "chief" is used as the task type for the coordinator, as the following example demonstrates. Here we set TF_CONFIG for the task designated as a parameter server (task type "ps") and index 1 (the second task), in a cluster with 1 chief, 2 parameter servers, and 3 workers. Note that the it needs to be set before the use of tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.TFConfigClusterResolver.

Example code for cluster setup:

os.environ['TF_CONFIG'] = '''
{
  "cluster": {
    "chief": ["chief.example.com:2222"],
    "ps": ["ps0.example.com:2222", "ps1.example.com:2222"],
    "worker": ["worker0.example.com:2222", "worker1.example.com:2222",
               "worker2.example.com:2222"]
  },
  "task": {
    "type": "ps",
    "index": 1
  }
}
'''

If you prefer to run the same binary for all tasks, you will need to let the binary branch into different roles at the beginning of the program:

os.environ["GRPC_FAIL_FAST"] = "use_caller"
cluster_resolver = tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.TFConfigClusterResolver()

# If coordinator, create a strategy and start the training program.
if cluster_resolver.task_type == 'chief':
  strategy = tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy(
      cluster_resolver)
  ...

# If worker/ps, create a server
elif cluster_resolver.task_type in ("worker", "ps"):
  server = tf.distribute.Server(...)
  ...

Alternatively, you can also start a bunch of TensorFlow servers in advance and connect to them later. The coordinator can be in the same cluster or on any machine that has connectivity to workers and parameter server. This is covered in our guide and tutorial.

Variable creation with strategy.scope()

tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy follows the tf.distribute API contract where variable creation is expected to be inside the context manager returned by strategy.scope(), in order to be correctly placed on parameter servers in a round-robin manner:

# In this example, we're assuming having 3 ps.
strategy = tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy(
    cluster_resolver=...)
coordinator = tf.distribute.experimental.coordinator.ClusterCoordinator(
    strategy=strategy)

# Variables should be created inside scope to be placed on parameter servers.
# If created outside scope such as `v1` here, it would be placed on the
# coordinator.
v1 = tf.Variable(initial_value=0.0)

with strategy.scope():
  v2 = tf.Variable(initial_value=1.0)
  v3 = tf.Variable(initial_value=2.0)
  v4 = tf.Variable(initial_value=3.0)
  v5 = tf.Variable(initial_value=4.0)

# v2 through v5 are created in scope and are distributed on parameter servers.
# Default placement is round-robin but the order should not be relied on.
assert v2.device == "/job:ps/replica:0/task:0/device:CPU:0"
assert v3.device == "/job:ps/replica:0/task:1/device:CPU:0"
assert v4.device == "/job:ps/replica:0/task:2/device:CPU:0"
assert v5.device == "/job:ps/replica:0/task:0/device:CPU:0"

See distribute.Strategy.scope for more information.

Variable partitioning

Having dedicated servers to store variables means being able to divide up, or "shard" the variables across the ps. Partitioning large variable among ps is a commonly used technique to boost training throughput and mitigate memory constraints. It enables parallel computations and updates on different shards of a variable, and often yields better load balancing across parameter servers . Without sharding, models with large variables (e.g, embeddings) that can't fit into one machine's memory would otherwise be unable to train.

With tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy, if a variable_partitioner is provided to __init__ and certain conditions are satisfied, the resulting variables created in scope are sharded across the parameter servers, in a round-robin fashion. The variable reference returned from tf.Variable becomes a type that serves as the container of the sharded variables. One can access variables attribute of this container for the actual variable components. If building model with tf.Module or Keras, the variable components are collected in the variables alike attributes.

class Dense(tf.Module):
  def __init__(self, name=None):
    super().__init__(name=name)
    self.w = tf.Variable(tf.random.normal([100, 10]), name='w')

  def __call__(self, x):
    return x * self.w

# Partition the dense layer into 2 shards.
variable_partitioiner  = (
  tf.distribute.experimental.partitioners.FixedShardsPartitioner(
    num_shards = 2))
strategy = ParameterServerStrategy(cluster_resolver=...,
  variable_partitioner = variable_partitioner)
with strategy.scope():
  dense = Dense()
assert len(dense.variables) == 2
assert isinstance(dense.variables[0], tf.Variable)
assert isinstance(dense.variables[1], tf.Variable)
assert dense.variables[0].name == "w/part_0"
assert dense.variables[1].name == "w/part_1"

The sharded variable container can be converted to a Tensor via tf.convert_to_tensor. This means the container can be directly used in most Python Ops where such Tensor convertion automatically happens. For example in the above code snippet, x * self.w would implicitly apply the said tensor convertion. Note that such convertion can be expensive, as the variable components need to be transferred from multiple parameter servers to where the value is used.

tf.nn.embedding_lookup on the other hand doesn't apply the tensor convertion , and performs parallel lookups on the variable components instead. This is crutial to scale up embedding lookups when the embedding table variable is large.

When a partitioned variable is saved to SavedModel, it will be saved as if it is one single variable. This improves serving efficiency by eliminating a number of Ops that handle the partiton aspects.

Known limitations of variable partitioning:

  • Number of parttions must not change across Checkpoint save/load.

  • After saving partitioned variables to a SavedModel, the SavedModel can't be loaded via tf.saved_model.load.

  • Partition variable doesn't directly work with tf.GradientTape, please use the variables attributes to get the actual variable components and use them in gradient APIs instead.

Dataset preparation

With tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy, a dataset is created in each of the workers to be used for training. This is done by creating a dataset_fn that takes no argument and returns a tf.data.Dataset, and passing the dataset_fn into tf.distribute.experimental.coordinator. ClusterCoordinator.create_per_worker_dataset. We recommend the dataset to be shuffled and repeated to have the examples run through the training as evenly as possible.

def dataset_fn():
  filenames = ...
  dataset = tf.data.Dataset.from_tensor_slices(filenames)

  # Dataset is recommended to be shuffled, and repeated.
  return dataset.shuffle(buffer_size=...).repeat().batch(batch_size=...)

coordinator =
    tf.distribute.experimental.coordinator.ClusterCoordinator(strategy=...)
distributed_dataset = coordinator.create_per_worker_dataset(dataset_fn)

Limitations

cluster_resolver a tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver object.
variable_partitioner a distribute.experimental.partitioners.Partitioner that specifies how to partition variables. If None, variables will not be partitioned.

  • Predefined partitioners in tf.distribute.experimental.partitioners can be used for this argument. A commonly used partitioner is MinSizePartitioner(min_shard_bytes = 256 << 10, max_shards = num_ps), which allocates at least 256K per shard, and each ps gets at most one shard.

  • variable_partitioner will be called for each variable created under strategy scope to instruct how the variable should be partitioned. Variables that have only one partition along the partitioning axis (i.e., no need for partition) will be created as normal tf.Variable.

  • Only the first / outermost axis partitioning is supported.

  • Div partition strategy is used to partition variables. Assuming we assign consecutive integer ids along the first axis of a variable, then ids are assigned to shards in a contiguous manner, while attempting to keep each shard size identical. If the ids do not evenly divide the number of shards, each of the first several shards will be assigned one more id. For instance, a variable whose first dimension is 13 has 13 ids, and they are split across 5 shards as: [[0, 1, 2], [3, 4, 5], [6, 7, 8], [9, 10], [11, 12]].

  • Variables created under strategy.extended.colocate_vars_with will not be partitioned.

cluster_resolver Returns the cluster resolver associated with this strategy.

In general, when using a multi-worker tf.distribute strategy such as tf.distribute.experimental.MultiWorkerMirroredStrategy or tf.distribute.TPUStrategy(), there is a tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver associated with the strategy used, and such an instance is returned by this property.

Strategies that intend to have an associated tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver must set the relevant attribute, or override this property; otherwise, None is returned by default. Those strategies should also provide information regarding what is returned by this property.

Single-worker strategies usually do not have a tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver, and in those cases this property will return None.

The tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver may be useful when the user needs to access information such as the cluster spec, task type or task id. For example,


os.environ['TF_CONFIG'] = json.dumps({
'cluster': {
'worker': ["localhost:12345", "localhost:23456"],
'ps': ["localhost:34567"]
},
'task': {'type': 'worker', 'index': 0}
})

# This implicitly uses TF_CONFIG for the cluster and current task info.
strategy = tf.distribute.experimental.MultiWorkerMirroredStrategy()

...

if strategy.cluster_resolver.task_type == 'worker':
# Perform something that's only applicable on workers. Since we set this
# as a worker above, this block will run on this particular instance.
elif strategy.cluster_resolver.task_type == 'ps':
# Perform something that's only applicable on parameter servers. Since we
# set this as a worker above, this block will not run on this particular
# instance.

For more information, please see tf.distribute.cluster_resolver.ClusterResolver's API docstring.

extended tf.distribute.StrategyExtended with additional methods.
num_replicas_in_sync Returns number of replicas over which gradients are aggregated.

Methods

distribute_datasets_from_function

View source

Distributes tf.data.Dataset instances created by calls to dataset_fn.

The argument dataset_fn that users pass in is an input function that has a tf.distribute.InputContext argument and returns a tf.data.Dataset instance. It is expected that the returned dataset from dataset_fn is already batched by per-replica batch size (i.e. global batch size divided by the number of replicas in sync) and sharded. tf.distribute.Strategy.distribute_datasets_from_function does not batch or shard the tf.data.Dataset instance returned from the input function. dataset_fn will be called on the CPU device of each of the workers and each generates a dataset where every replica on that worker will dequeue one batch of inputs (i.e. if a worker has two replicas, two batches will be dequeued from the Dataset every step).

This method can be used for several purposes. First, it allows you to specify your own batching and sharding logic. (In contrast, tf.distribute.experimental_distribute_dataset does batching and sharding for you.) For example, where experimental_distribute_dataset is unable to shard the input files, this method might be used to manually shard the dataset (avoiding the slow fallback behavior in experimental_distribute_dataset). In cases where the dataset is infinite, this sharding can be done by creating dataset replicas that differ only in their random seed.

The dataset_fn should take an tf.distribute.InputContext instance where information about batching and input replication can be accessed.

You can use element_spec property of the tf.distribute.DistributedDataset returned by this API to query the tf.TypeSpec of the elements returned by the iterator. This can be used to set the input_signature property of a tf.function. Follow tf.distribute.DistributedDataset.element_spec to see an example.

For a tutorial on more usage and properties of this method, refer to the tutorial on distributed input). If you are interested in last partial batch handling, read this section.

Args
dataset_fn A function taking a tf.distribute.InputContext instance and returning a tf.data.Dataset.
options tf.distribute.InputOptions used to control options on how this dataset is distributed.

Returns
A tf.distribute.DistributedDataset.

experimental_distribute_dataset

View source

Creates tf.distribute.DistributedDataset from tf.data.Dataset.

The returned tf.distribute.DistributedDataset can be iterated over similar to regular datasets. NOTE: The user cannot add any more transformations to a tf.distribute.DistributedDataset. You can only create an iterator or examine the tf.TypeSpec of the data generated by it. See API docs of tf.distribute.DistributedDataset to learn more.

The following is an example:

global_batch_size = 2
# Passing the devices is optional.
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(devices=["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
# Create a dataset
dataset = tf.data.Dataset.range(4).batch(global_batch_size)
# Distribute that dataset
dist_dataset = strategy.experimental_distribute_dataset(dataset)
@tf.function
def replica_fn(input):
  return input*2
result = []
# Iterate over the `tf.distribute.DistributedDataset`
for x in dist_dataset:
  # process dataset elements
  result.append(strategy.run(replica_fn, args=(x,)))
print(result)
[PerReplica:{
  0: <tf.Tensor: shape=(1,), dtype=int64, numpy=array([0])>,
  1: <tf.Tensor: shape=(1,), dtype=int64, numpy=array([2])>
}, PerReplica:{
  0: <tf.Tensor: shape=(1,), dtype=int64, numpy=array([4])>,
  1: <tf.Tensor: shape=(1,), dtype=int64, numpy=array([6])>
}]

Three key actions happending under the hood of this method are batching, sharding, and prefetching.

In the code snippet above, dataset is batched by global_batch_size, and calling experimental_distribute_dataset on it rebatches dataset to a new batch size that is equal to the global batch size divided by the number of replicas in sync. We iterate through it using a Pythonic for loop. x is a tf.distribute.DistributedValues containing data for all replicas, and each replica gets data of the new batch size. tf.distribute.Strategy.run will take care of feeding the right per-replica data in x to the right replica_fn executed on each replica.

Sharding contains autosharding across multiple workers and within every worker. First, in multi-worker distributed training (i.e. when you use tf.distribute.experimental.MultiWorkerMirroredStrategy or tf.distribute.TPUStrategy), autosharding a dataset over a set of workers means that each worker is assigned a subset of the entire dataset (if the right tf.data.experimental.AutoShardPolicy is set). This is to ensure that at each step, a global batch size of non-overlapping dataset elements will be processed by each worker. Autosharding has a couple of different options that can be specified using tf.data.experimental.DistributeOptions. Then, sharding within each worker means the method will split the data among all the worker devices (if more than one a present). This will happen regardless of multi-worker autosharding.

By default, this method adds a prefetch transformation at the end of the user provided tf.data.Dataset instance. The argument to the prefetch transformation which is buffer_size is equal to the number of replicas in sync.

If the above batch splitting and dataset sharding logic is undesirable, please use tf.distribute.Strategy.distribute_datasets_from_function instead, which does not do any automatic batching or sharding for you.

For a tutorial on more usage and properties of this method, refer to the tutorial on distributed input. If you are interested in last partial batch handling, read this section.

Args
dataset tf.data.Dataset that will be sharded across all replicas using the rules stated above.
options tf.distribute.InputOptions used to control options on how this dataset is distributed.

Returns
A tf.distribute.DistributedDataset.

experimental_distribute_values_from_function

View source

Generates tf.distribute.DistributedValues from value_fn.

This function is to generate tf.distribute.DistributedValues to pass into run, reduce, or other methods that take distributed values when not using datasets.

Args
value_fn The function to run to generate values. It is called for each replica with tf.distribute.ValueContext as the sole argument. It must return a Tensor or a type that can be converted to a Tensor.

Returns
A tf.distribute.DistributedValues containing a value for each replica.

Example usage:

  1. Return constant value per replica:
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
def value_fn(ctx):
  return tf.constant(1.)
distributed_values = (
     strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(
       value_fn))
local_result = strategy.experimental_local_results(distributed_values)
local_result
(<tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=float32, numpy=1.0>,
 <tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=float32, numpy=1.0>)
  1. Distribute values in array based on replica_id:
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
array_value = np.array([3., 2., 1.])
def value_fn(ctx):
  return array_value[ctx.replica_id_in_sync_group]
distributed_values = (
     strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(
       value_fn))
local_result = strategy.experimental_local_results(distributed_values)
local_result
(3.0, 2.0)
  1. Specify values using num_replicas_in_sync:
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
def value_fn(ctx):
  return ctx.num_replicas_in_sync
distributed_values = (
     strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(
       value_fn))
local_result = strategy.experimental_local_results(distributed_values)
local_result
(2, 2)
  1. Place values on devices and distribute:
strategy = tf.distribute.TPUStrategy()
worker_devices = strategy.extended.worker_devices
multiple_values = []
for i in range(strategy.num_replicas_in_sync):
  with tf.device(worker_devices[i]):
    multiple_values.append(tf.constant(1.0))

def value_fn(ctx):
  return multiple_values[ctx.replica_id_in_sync_group]

distributed_values = strategy.
  experimental_distribute_values_from_function(
  value_fn)

experimental_local_results

View source

Returns the list of all local per-replica values contained in value.

Args
value A value returned by experimental_run(), run(), extended.call_for_each_replica(), or a variable created in scope.

Returns
A tuple of values contained in value. If value represents a single value, this returns (value,).

gather

View source

Gather value across replicas along axis to the current device.

Given a tf.distribute.DistributedValues or tf.Tensor-like object value, this API gathers and concatenates value across replicas along the axis-th dimension. The result is copied to the "current" device

  • which would typically be the CPU of the worker on which the program is running. For tf.distribute.TPUStrategy, it is the first TPU host. For multi-client MultiWorkerMirroredStrategy, this is CPU of each worker.

This API can only be called in the cross-replica context. For a counterpart in the replica context, see tf.distribute.ReplicaContext.all_gather.

strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
# A DistributedValues with component tensor of shape (2, 1) on each replica
distributed_values = strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(lambda _: tf.identity(tf.constant([[1], [2]])))
@tf.function
def run():
  return strategy.gather(distributed_values, axis=0)
run()
<tf.Tensor: shape=(4, 1), dtype=int32, numpy=
array([[1],
       [2],
       [1],
       [2]], dtype=int32)>

Consider the following example for more combinations:

strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1", "GPU:2", "GPU:3"])
single_tensor = tf.reshape(tf.range(6), shape=(1,2,3))
distributed_values = strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(lambda _: tf.identity(single_tensor))
@tf.function
def run(axis):
  return strategy.gather(distributed_values, axis=axis)
axis=0
run(axis)
<tf.Tensor: shape=(4, 2, 3), dtype=int32, numpy=
array([[[0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5]],
       [[0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5]],
       [[0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5]],
       [[0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5]]], dtype=int32)>
axis=1
run(axis)
<tf.Tensor: shape=(1, 8, 3), dtype=int32, numpy=
array([[[0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5],
        [0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5],
        [0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5],
        [0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5]]], dtype=int32)>
axis=2
run(axis)
<tf.Tensor: shape=(1, 2, 12), dtype=int32, numpy=
array([[[0, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2],
        [3, 4, 5, 3, 4, 5, 3, 4, 5, 3, 4, 5]]], dtype=int32)>

Args
value a tf.distribute.DistributedValues instance, e.g. returned by Strategy.run, to be combined into a single tensor. It can also be a regular tensor when used with tf.distribute.OneDeviceStrategy or the default strategy. The tensors that constitute the DistributedValues can only be dense tensors with non-zero rank, NOT a tf.IndexedSlices.
axis 0-D int32 Tensor. Dimension along which to gather. Must be in the range [0, rank(value)).

Returns
A Tensor that's the concatenation of value across replicas along axis dimension.

reduce

View source

Reduce value across replicas and return result on current device.

strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
def step_fn():
  i = tf.distribute.get_replica_context().replica_id_in_sync_group
  return tf.identity(i)

per_replica_result = strategy.run(step_fn)
total = strategy.reduce("SUM", per_replica_result, axis=None)
total
<tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=int32, numpy=1>

To see how this would look with multiple replicas, consider the same example with MirroredStrategy with 2 GPUs:

strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(devices=["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
def step_fn():
  i = tf.distribute.get_replica_context().replica_id_in_sync_group
  return tf.identity(i)

per_replica_result = strategy.run(step_fn)
# Check devices on which per replica result is:
strategy.experimental_local_results(per_replica_result)[0].device
# /job:localhost/replica:0/task:0/device:GPU:0
strategy.experimental_local_results(per_replica_result)[1].device
# /job:localhost/replica:0/task:0/device:GPU:1

total = strategy.reduce("SUM", per_replica_result, axis=None)
# Check device on which reduced result is:
total.device
# /job:localhost/replica:0/task:0/device:CPU:0

This API is typically used for aggregating the results returned from different replicas, for reporting etc. For example, loss computed from different replicas can be averaged using this API before printing.

There are a number of different tf.distribute APIs for reducing values across replicas:

What should axis be?

Given a per-replica value returned by run, say a per-example loss, the batch will be divided across all the replicas. This function allows you to aggregate across replicas and optionally also across batch elements by specifying the axis parameter accordingly.

For example, if you have a global batch size of 8 and 2 replicas, values for examples [0, 1, 2, 3] will be on replica 0 and [4, 5, 6, 7] will be on replica 1. With axis=None, reduce will aggregate only across replicas, returning [0+4, 1+5, 2+6, 3+7]. This is useful when each replica is computing a scalar or some other value that doesn't have a "batch" dimension (like a gradient or loss).

strategy.reduce("sum", per_replica_result, axis=None)

Sometimes, you will want to aggregate across both the global batch and all replicas. You can get this behavior by specifying the batch dimension as the axis, typically axis=0. In this case it would return a scalar 0+1+2+3+4+5+6+7.

strategy.reduce("sum", per_replica_result, axis=0)

If there is a last partial batch, you will need to specify an axis so that the resulting shape is consistent across replicas. So if the last batch has size 6 and it is divided into [0, 1, 2, 3] and [4, 5], you would get a shape mismatch unless you specify axis=0. If you specify tf.distribute.ReduceOp.MEAN, using axis=0 will use the correct denominator of 6. Contrast this with computing reduce_mean to get a scalar value on each replica and this function to average those means, which will weigh some values 1/8 and others 1/4.

Args
reduce_op a tf.distribute.ReduceOp value specifying how values should be combined. Allows using string representation of the enum such as "SUM", "MEAN".
value a tf.distribute.DistributedValues instance, e.g. returned by Strategy.run, to be combined into a single tensor. It can also be a regular tensor when used with OneDeviceStrategy or default strategy.
axis specifies the dimension to reduce along within each replica's tensor. Should typically be set to the batch dimension, or None to only reduce across replicas (e.g. if the tensor has no batch dimension).

Returns
A Tensor.

run

View source

Invokes fn on each replica, with the given arguments.

This method is the primary way to distribute your computation with a tf.distribute object. It invokes fn on each replica. If args or kwargs have tf.distribute.DistributedValues, such as those produced by a tf.distribute.DistributedDataset from tf.distribute.Strategy.experimental_distribute_dataset or tf.distribute.Strategy.distribute_datasets_from_function, when fn is executed on a particular replica, it will be executed with the component of tf.distribute.DistributedValues that correspond to that replica.

fn is invoked under a replica context. fn may call tf.distribute.get_replica_context() to access members such as all_reduce. Please see the module-level docstring of tf.distribute for the concept of replica context.

All arguments in args or kwargs should either be Python values of a nested structure of tensors, e.g. a list of tensors, in which case args and kwargs will be passed to the fn invoked on each replica. Or args or kwargs can be tf.distribute.DistributedValues containing tensors or composite tensors, i.e. tf.compat.v1.TensorInfo.CompositeTensor, in which case each fn call will get the component of a tf.distribute.DistributedValues corresponding to its replica.

Example usage:

  1. Constant tensor input.
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
tensor_input = tf.constant(3.0)
@tf.function
def replica_fn(input):
  return input*2.0
result = strategy.run(replica_fn, args=(tensor_input,))
result
PerReplica:{
  0: <tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=float32, numpy=6.0>,
  1: <tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=float32, numpy=6.0>
}
  1. DistributedValues input.
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
@tf.function
def run():
  def value_fn(value_context):
    return value_context.num_replicas_in_sync
  distributed_values = (
    strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(
      value_fn))
  def replica_fn2(input):
    return input*2
  return strategy.run(replica_fn2, args=(distributed_values,))
result = run()
result
<tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=int32, numpy=4>
  1. Use tf.distribute.ReplicaContext to allreduce values.
strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["gpu:0", "gpu:1"])
@tf.function
def run():
   def value_fn(value_context):
     return tf.constant(value_context.replica_id_in_sync_group)
   distributed_values = (
       strategy.experimental_distribute_values_from_function(
           value_fn))
   def replica_fn(input):
     return tf.distribute.get_replica_context().all_reduce("sum", input)
   return strategy.run(replica_fn, args=(distributed_values,))
result = run()
result
PerReplica:{
  0: <tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=int32, numpy=1>,
  1: <tf.Tensor: shape=(), dtype=int32, numpy=1>
}

Args
fn The function to run on each replica.
args Optional positional arguments to fn. Its element can be a Python value, a tensor or a tf.distribute.DistributedValues.
kwargs Optional keyword arguments to fn. Its element can be a Python value, a tensor or a tf.distribute.DistributedValues.
options An optional instance of tf.distribute.RunOptions specifying the options to run fn.

Returns
Merged return value of fn across replicas. The structure of the return value is the same as the return value from fn. Each element in the structure can either be tf.distribute.DistributedValues, Tensor objects, or Tensors (for example, if running on a single replica).

scope

View source

Context manager to make the strategy current and distribute variables.

This method returns a context manager, and is used as follows:

strategy = tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy(["GPU:0", "GPU:1"])
# Variable created inside scope:
with strategy.scope():
  mirrored_variable = tf.Variable(1.)
mirrored_variable
MirroredVariable:{
  0: <tf.Variable 'Variable:0' shape=() dtype=float32, numpy=1.0>,
  1: <tf.Variable 'Variable/replica_1:0' shape=() dtype=float32, numpy=1.0>
}
# Variable created outside scope:
regular_variable = tf.Variable(1.)
regular_variable
<tf.Variable 'Variable:0' shape=() dtype=float32, numpy=1.0>

What happens when Strategy.scope is entered?

  • strategy is installed in the global context as the "current" strategy. Inside this scope, tf.distribute.get_strategy() will now return this strategy. Outside this scope, it returns the default no-op strategy.
  • Entering the scope also enters the "cross-replica context". See tf.distribute.StrategyExtended for an explanation on cross-replica and replica contexts.
  • Variable creation inside scope is intercepted by the strategy. Each strategy defines how it wants to affect the variable creation. Sync strategies like MirroredStrategy, TPUStrategy and MultiWorkerMiroredStrategy create variables replicated on each replica, whereas ParameterServerStrategy creates variables on the parameter servers. This is done using a custom tf.variable_creator_scope.
  • In some strategies, a default device scope may also be entered: in MultiWorkerMiroredStrategy, a default device scope of "/CPU:0" is entered on each worker.

What should be in scope and what should be outside?

There are a number of requirements on what needs to happen inside the scope. However, in places where we have information about which strategy is in use, we often enter the scope for the user, so they don't have to do it explicitly (i.e. calling those either inside or outside the scope is OK).

  • Anything that creates variables that should be distributed variables must be in strategy.scope. This can be either by directly putting it in scope, or relying on another API like strategy.run or model.fit to enter it for you. Any variable that is created outside scope will not be distributed and may have performance implications. Common things that create variables in TF: models, optimizers, metrics. These should always be created inside the scope. Another source of variable creation can be a checkpoint restore - when variables are created lazily. Note that any variable created inside a strategy captures the strategy information. So reading and writing to these variables outside the strategy.scope can also work seamlessly, without the user having to enter the scope.
  • Some strategy APIs (such as strategy.run and strategy.reduce) which require to be in a strategy's scope, enter the scope for you automatically, which means when using those APIs you don't need to enter the scope yourself.
  • When a tf.keras.Model is created inside a strategy.scope, we capture this information. When high level training frameworks methods such as model.compile, model.fit etc are then called on this model, we automatically enter the scope, as well as use this strategy to distribute the training etc. See detailed example in distributed keras tutorial. Note that simply calling the model(..) is not impacted - only high level training framework APIs are. model.compile, model.fit, model.evaluate, model.predict and model.save can all be called inside or outside the scope.
  • The following can be either inside or outside the scope:
    • Creating the input datasets
    • Defining tf.functions that represent your training step
    • Saving APIs such as tf.saved_model.save. Loading creates variables, so that should go inside the scope if you want to train the model in a distributed way.
    • Checkpoint saving. As mentioned above - checkpoint.restore may sometimes need to be inside scope if it creates variables.

Returns
A context manager.