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A fully adaptive, zero-tuning parameter manager that enables efficient distributed machine learning training


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Run on Ubuntu 20.04 Run on Ubuntu 22.04 Test bindings License

AdaPM (formerly AdaPS) is a fully adaptive parameter manager. AdaPM is efficient for many machine learning tasks out of the box because it automatically adapts to the underlying task. It adapts based on intent signals. I.e., the application signals which parameters it intends to access in the near future. Based on these signals, AdaPM decides automatically (i.e., without specific user input) and adaptively (i.e., depending on the current situation) what to do and when to do it. This makes AdaPM efficient and easy to use. We describe details in our paper on AdaPM (arXiv).

The main branch of this repository contains the latest version of AdaPM. Details on the experiments in the AdaPM paper (arXiv) can be found in docs/ The source code used in the paper is in branch exp22. The implementations for the GCN and CTR applications can be found in a separate repository.

AdaPM is the successor of Lapse and NuPS. Lapse is the first parameter manager that supports dynamic parameter allocation, i.e., the ability to relocate parameters among nodes during run time. Our paper on Lapse provides more information (PVLDB 13(12), 2020). Details on the experiments for this paper can be found in docs/ The source code used in this paper is in branch vldb20. NuPS is a novel multi-technique parameter manager that combines relocation and replication management techniques, and supports sampling directly in the parameter manager. Our paper on NuPS provides more detail (SIGMOD 22). Details on the experiments of this paper can be found in docs/ The source code used in this paper is in branch sigmod22.

AdaPM provides bindings to PyTorch, see bindings/.

The implementation of AdaPM is based on NuPS, Lapse, and PS-Lite.


AdaPM provides the following primitives to access parameters:

  • Pull(keys): retrieve the values of a set of parameters (identified by keys)
  • Push(keys, updates): send (additive) updates for parameters

AdaPM provides the following primitives to signal intent:

  • Intent(keys, start, end): signal that the issuing worker intends to access keys between clock start (incl.) and end (excl.)
  • advanceClock(): raise the clock of the issuing worker by 1

Additionally, AdaPM supports sampling access (as NuPS does) via the following primitives:

  • handle = PrepareSample(N): prepare a group of N samples
  • PullSample(handle): retrieve N samples from a prepared group

By default, the Pull(), Push(), and PullSample() primitives execute asynchronously. Wait() can be used to execute these primitives synchronously. For example: Wait(Pull(keys)).

A simple example:

  std::vector<uint64_t> keys = {1, 3, 5};
  std::vector<float> updates = {1, 1, 1};
  std::vector<float> vals;
  ps::KVWorker<float> kv;

  kv.Wait(kv.Pull(keys, &vals)); // access without intent
  kv.Wait(kv.Push(keys, updates));
  kv.Intent(keys, 1, 2);

  // ...

  kv.advanceClock(); // clock started at 0, so is at 1 now

  kv.Wait(kv.Pull(keys, &vals)); // access with intent
  kv.Wait(kv.Push(keys, updates)); // access with intent
  // sampling access
  auto h = kv.PrepareSample(3); // prepare a group of 20 samples
  kv.Wait(kv.PullSample(h, keys, vals)); // pull the 3 samples (keys.size() determines how many samples are pulled)


AdaPM requires a C++14 compiler such as g++ >= 4.9 and boost for some the application examples. On Ubuntu >= 13.10, you can install it by

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y cmake build-essential git wget libboost-all-dev libzmq3-dev libprotobuf-dev protobuf-compiler libeigen3-dev

Then clone and build (without torch support)

git clone
cd AdaPM
cmake -S . -B build    # (equivalent old style for CMake<3.14: mkdir build && cd build && cmake ..)
cmake --build build --target all -j

See bindings/ for how to build the bindings.

CMake options

  • Set PROTOBUF_PATH to link a specific protobuf installation (rather than relying on the system's default paths). E.g., we use this to build ABI-compatible PyTorch bindings (see bindings/
  • Set CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug to build debug binaries.
  • (Advanced) Set PS_KEY_TYPE to the data type that the parameter manager should use as keys (default: uint64_t)
  • (Advanced) Set PS_LOCALITY_STATS to collect detailed locality statistics during run time.
  • (Advanced) Set PS_TRACE_KEYS=1 to compile with key tracing support. Then set --sys.trace.keys and --sys.stats.out when starting an application on a cluster.

Getting started

A very simple example can be found in To run it with one node and default parameters:

python tracker/ -s 1 build/apps/simple

Or to run with 3 nodes and some specific parameters:

python tracker/ -s 3 build/apps/simple -v 5 -i 10 -k 14 -t 4

Run build/apps/simple --help to see available parameters.

Starting an application on a cluster

There are multiple start scripts. We commonly use the following ones:

The -s flag specifies how many processes/nodes to use. For example, -s 4 uses 4 nodes. In each process, AdaPM starts one server thread and multiple worker threads.

Example Applications

You find example applications in the apps/ directory and launch commands to locally run toy examples below. The toy datasets are in apps/data/.

Knowledge Graph Embeddings

python tracker/ -s 2 build/apps/knowledge_graph_embeddings --dataset apps/data/kge/ --num_entities 280 --num_relations 112 --num_epochs 4 --embed_dim 100 

Word vectors

python tracker/ -s 2 build/apps/word2vec --num_threads 2 --negative 2 --binary 1 --num_keys 4970 --embed_dim 10  --input_file apps/data/lm/small.txt --num_iterations 4 --window 2 --data_words 10000

Matrix Factorization

python tracker/ -s 2  build/apps/matrix_factorization --dataset apps/data/mf/ -r 2 --num_rows 6 --num_cols 4 --epochs 10


AdaPM starts one process per node. Within this process, worker threads access the parameter store directly. A server thread handles requests by other nodes, and a synchronization manager thread triggers replica synchronization and intent communication.


How to cite

The citation for AdaPM is as follows:

  author = {Renz-Wieland, Alexander and Kieslinger, Andreas and Gericke, Robert and Gemulla, Rainer and Kaoudi, Zoi and Markl, Volker},
  title = {Good Intentions: Adaptive Parameter Servers via Intent Signaling},
  publisher = {arXiv},
  year = {2022},
  doi = {10.48550/ARXIV.2206.00470},
  url = {},

If you wish to refer NuPS specifically, cite:

  author = {Renz-Wieland, Alexander and Gemulla, Rainer and Kaoudi, Zoi and Markl, Volker},
  title = {NuPS: A Parameter Server for Machine Learning with Non-Uniform Parameter Access},
  year = {2022},
  publisher = {Association for Computing Machinery},
  address = {New York, NY, USA},
  booktitle = {To appear in the Proceedings of the 2022 ACM International Conference on Management of Data},
  location = {Chicago, Illinois, USA},
  series = {SIGMOD '22}

If you wish to refer Lapse specifically, cite:

  author = {Renz-Wieland, Alexander and Gemulla, Rainer and Zeuch, Steffen and Markl, Volker},
  title = {Dynamic Parameter Allocation in Parameter Servers},
  year = {2020},
  issue_date = {August 2020},
  publisher = {VLDB Endowment},
  volume = {13},
  number = {12},
  issn = {2150-8097},
  url = {},
  doi = {10.14778/3407790.3407796},
  journal = {Proc. VLDB Endow.},
  month = jul,
  pages = {1877–1890},
  numpages = {14}