Oral Session 6


January 6, 2014


Dino Sejdinovic and Qirong Ho


Gatsby Unit, CMU


A Kernel Test for Three-Variable Interactions – We introduce kernel nonparametric tests for Lancaster three-variable interaction and for total independence, using embeddings of signed measures into a reproducing kernel Hilbert space. The resulting test statistics are straightforward to compute, and are used in powerful three-variable interaction tests, which are consistent against all alternatives for a large family of reproducing kernels. We show the Lancaster test to be sensitive to cases where two independent causes individually have weak influence on a third dependent variable, but their combined effect has a strong influence. This makes the Lancaster test especially suited to finding structure in directed graphical models, where it outperforms competing nonparametric tests in detecting such V-structures.

More Effective Distributed ML via a Stale Synchronous Parallel Parameter Server – We propose a parameter server system for distributed ML, which follows a Stale Synchronous Parallel (SSP) model of computation that maximizes the time computational workers spend doing useful work on ML algorithms, while still providing correctness guarantees. The parameter server provides an easy-to-use shared interface for read/write access to an ML model’s values (parameters and variables), and the SSP model allows distributed workers to read older, stale versions of these values from a local cache, instead of waiting to get them from a central storage. This significantly increases the proportion of time workers spend computing, as opposed to waiting. Furthermore, the SSP model ensures ML algorithm correctness by limiting the maximum age of the stale values. We provide a proof of correctness under SSP, as well as empirical results demonstrating that the SSP model achieves faster algorithm convergence on several different ML problems, compared to fully-synchronous and asynchronous schemes.