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A (simple) parallel computing framework for Lua

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README.md

para||el: a (simple) parallel computing framework for Torch

This package provides a simple mechanism to dispatch and run Torch/Lua code as independant processes and communicate via ZeroMQ sockets. Processes can be forked locally or on remote machines.

Note: ZeroMQ Version 2.2 is supported (not the newest >= 3.0).

License

Copyright (c) 2011 Clement Farabet, Marco Scoffier

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Install

1/ Torch7 is required:

Dependencies, on Linux (Ubuntu > 9.04):

$ apt-get install gcc g++ git libreadline5-dev cmake wget libqt4-core libqt4-gui libqt4-dev

Dependencies, on Mac OS (Leopard, or more), using Homebrew:

$ brew install git readline cmake wget qt

Then on both platforms:

$ git clone https://github.com/andresy/torch
$ cd torch
$ mkdir build; cd build
$ cmake ..
$ make
$ [sudo] make install

2/ Once Torch7 is available, install this package:

$ [sudo] torch-rocks install parallel

Use the library

API, in very short:

Load/start up package:

require 'parallel'

Fork a new process, or N new processes, locally:

parallel.fork()
parallel.nfork(4)

Fork remote processes. In that following code, we fork 4 processes on myserver.org, and 6 processes on myserver2.org.

parallel.nfork( {4, ip='myserver.org', protocol='ssh', lua='/path/to/remote/torch'},
                {6, ip='myserver2.org', protocol='ssh', lua='/path/to/remote/torch'} )

Even more flexible, a list of machines can be established first, so that a call to sfork() [smart fork] can automatically distribute the forked processes onto the available machines:

parallel.addremote( {ip='server1.org', cores=8, lua='/path/to/torch', protocol='ssh -Y'},
                    {ip='server2.org', cores=16, lua='/path/to/torch', protocol='ssh -Y'},
                    {ip='server3.org', cores=4, lua='/path/to/torch', protocol='ssh -Y'} )
parallel.sfork(16)

-- in this example, the 16 processes will be distributed over the 3 machines:
-- server1.org: 6 processes
-- server2.org: 6 processes
-- server3.org: 4 processes

In the spirit of really abstracting where the jobs are executed, calibrate() can be called to estimate the compute power of each machine, so that you can distribute your load accordingly.

parallel.addremote(...)
parallel.calibrate()
forked = parallel.sfork(parallel.remotes.cores)  -- fork as many processes as cores available
for _,forked in ipairs(forked) do
   print('id: ' .. forked.id .. ', speed = ' .. forked.speed)
end
-- the speed of each process is a number ]0..1]. A coef of 1 means that it is the
-- fastest process available, and 0.5 for example would mean that the process is 2x
-- slower

Once processes have been forked, they all exist in a table: parallel.children, and all methods (exec,send,receive,join) work either on individual processes, or on groups of processes.

The first thing to do is to load these new processes with code. The code given can either be a function, with no arguments (it won't have any env when executing in the new process), or a string. Whether it is a string or a function, both get serialized into strings, and reloaded on the process side, using loadstring().

-- define process' code:
code = function()
   -- arbitrary code contained here
   require 'torch'
   t = torch.Tensor(10)
   print(t)

   -- any process can access its id, its parent's id [and children's id]
   print(parallel.id)
   print(parallel.parent.id)
   if parallel.children[1] then print(parallel.children[1].id)

   -- if arguments were passed, they're found in the regular ... table        
   args = {...}    
   print(args[1])
end

-- execute code in given process(es), with optional arguments:
parallel.children:exec(code)

-- this is equivalent to:
for _,child in ipairs(parallel.child) do
    child:exec(code)
end

parallel implements a simple yield/join mechanism to allow a parent to sync and affect the behavior of its children.

-- child code:
code = function()
   while true do
      print('something')
      parallel.yield()
   end
end
c = parallel.fork()
c:exec(code)

-- parent code
for i = 1,10 do
    c:join()
end

-- each time join() is called, it waits for the child to yield, and vice-versa.
-- in that example, 'something' only gets printed when the parent joins its child

Slightly more complex things can be implemented with yield/join: join() can take a string as an argument, which is returned by the corresponding yield(). This is useful to control branching in your children:

-- child code:
code = function()
   while true do
      print('something')
      m = parallel.yield()
      if m == 'break' then break end
   end
end
c = parallel.fork()
c:exec(code)

-- parent code
c:join('break')

Sometimes you might want to wait for a process to actually terminate (die), so that you can start new ones. The proper way to do this is to use the sync() function, which waits for the PID of that process to fully disappear from the OS. It also clears the child from the parallel.children list, and decrement parallel.nchildren.

code = function()
     -- do nothing and die
end
parallel.nfork(1)              -- fork one process
parallel.children:exec(code)   -- execute dummy code
print(parallel.nchildren)      -- prints: 1
parallel.children:sync()       -- wait for all children (here only 1) to die
print(parallel.nchildren)      -- prints: 0
parallel.nfork(2)              -- fork 2 processes
print(parallel.nchildren)      -- prints: 2
print(parallel.children[1])    -- prints: nil
print(parallel.children[2])    -- prints: table --- current running processes always
print(parallel.children[3])    -- prints: table --- exist in children[process.id]

When creating a child (parallel.fork), a connection is established to transfer data between the two processes. Two functions send() and receive() can be used to efficiently transfer data between these processes. Any Lua type, and all Torch7 type (tensor, storage, ...) can be transferred this way. The transmission is efficient for numeric data, as serialization merely involves a binary copy and some extra headers for book-keeping (see serialization in Torch7's manual).

-- define some code for children
somecode = function()
   while true do
      -- in an infinite loop, receive objects from parent:
      local obj = parallel.parent:receive()
      -- print
      parallel.print('received object:', obj)
   end
end

-- dispatch two processes:
parallel.nfork(2)
parallel.children:exec(somecode)

-- and send them some data:
t = {'a table', entry2='with arbitrary entries', tensor=torch.Tensor(100,100)}
while true do
    parallel.children[1]:send(t)        -- send the whole table to child 1
    parallel.children[2]:send(t.entry2) -- just send an entry to child 2
end

A convenient print function that prepends the process ID issuing the print:

> parallel.print('something')

<parallel#014>  something

Last, but not least: always run your parent code in a protected call, to catch potential errors, Ctrl+C, and the likes, and terminate nicely. By terminating nicely, I mean: killing all remote processes that you forked... If you don't do so, you leave you remote machines (and potentially yours) with hanging processes that are just waiting to receive data, and will not hesitate to get back in business the next time you run your parent code :-)

worker = function()
       -- some worker code
end

parent = function()
       -- some parent code
end

ok,err = pcall(parent)
if not ok then
   print(err)
   parallel.close()   -- this is the key call: doing this will insure leaving a clean
                      -- state, whatever the error was (ctrl+c, internal error, ...)
end

A simple complete example:

-- required libs
require 'parallel'
require 'lab'

-- define code for workers:
function worker()
   -- a worker starts with a blank stack, we need to reload
   -- our libraries
   require 'sys'
   require 'torch'

   -- print from worker:
   parallel.print('Im a worker, my ID is: ' .. parallel.id .. ' and my IP: ' .. parallel.ip)

   -- define a storage to receive data from top process
   while true do
      -- yield = allow parent to terminate me
      m = parallel.yield()
      if m == 'break' then break end

      -- receive data
      local t = parallel.parent:receive()
      parallel.print('received object with norm: ', t.data:norm())

      -- send some data back
      parallel.parent:send('this is my response')
   end
end

-- define code for parent:
function parent()
   -- print from top process
   parallel.print('Im the parent, my ID is: ' .. parallel.id)

   -- fork N processes
   parallel.nfork(4)

   -- exec worker code in each process
   parallel.children:exec(worker)

   -- create a complex object to send to workers
   t = {name='my variable', data=torch.randn(100,100)}

   -- transmit object to each worker
   parallel.print('transmitting object with norm: ', t.data:norm())
   for i = 1,1000 do
      parallel.children:join()
      parallel.children:send(t)
      replies = parallel.children:receive()
   end
   parallel.print('transmitted data to all children')

   -- sync/terminate when all workers are done
   parallel.children:join('break')
   parallel.print('all processes terminated')
end

-- protected execution:
ok,err = pcall(parent)
if not ok then print(err) parallel.close() end
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