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Collective Knowledge workflows to support ReQuEST tournaments (open, reproducible and Pareto-efficient SW/HW co-design of emerging workloads such as deep learning):


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compatibility automation workflow

DOI License


See ReQuEST website and arXiv report for more details about our open and reproducible tournaments on Pareto-efficient co-design of the whole software and hardware stack for AI, deep learning and other emerging workloads in terms of speed, throughput, accuracy, energy, costs, etc.

Validated workflows, artifacts and results from tournaments in the CK format

Preparing submissions for evaluation

The long-term ReQuEST goal is to develop a common platform with "plug&play" components for collaborative benchmarking, optimization and co-design of emerging workloads.

That's why we encourage the community to share artifacts (code and data) as reusable, portable and customizable components, and help them convert their submissions to the open Collective Knowledge format (CK).

We suggest you to check CK documentation for further details.

We will use the following public ReQuEST@ASPLOS'18 submissions to explain conversion to the CK format:

These notes are provided especially for next ReQuEST organizers.


Minimal CK installation

The minimal installation requires:

  • Python 2.7 or 3.3+ (limitation is mainly due to unitests)
  • Git command line client.


You can install CK in your local user space as follows:

$ git clone
$ export PATH=$PWD/ck/bin:$PATH

You can also install CK via PIP with sudo to avoid setting up environment variables yourself:

$ sudo pip install ck


First you need to download and install a few dependencies from the following sites:

You can then install CK as follows:

 $ pip install ck


 $ git clone ck-master
 $ set PATH={CURRENT PATH}\ck-master\bin;%PATH%

CK ReQuEST workflow installation

$ ck pull repo:ck-request

Creating dummy CK repository

First, we need to create a dummy CK repository which will contain CK wrappers with a unified API for your artifacts and workflows.

For simplicity, we create a dummy repository at GitHub with some user-friendly name of your workflow while prefixing it with ck-request-{name of competition}-{your workflow name}, i.e. .

You can see other public CK repositories prepared for ASPLOS'18 tournament at .

We then pull it via CK to create a local copy as follows:

 $ ck pull repo --url=

CK will create a local copy of this repository in $HOME/CK while adding .ckr.json file there. This file describes CK repository including unique ID and dependencies on other repositories in case you would like to reuse already existing artifacts in the CK format.

You can find this file on Linux as follows:

 $ cat `ck find repo:request-asplos18-my-workflow`/.ckr.json

You can use this .ckr.json as example.

Reusing existing artifacts

The idea behind CK is to help researchers reuse and extend existing artifacts (code and data). That's why we suggest you to first check shared components (workflows, modules, packages, software detection plugins, etc.) before implementing your own ones.

To participate in the ReQuEST tournaments you usually need to add at least one dependency on the ck-autotuning repository to be able to reuse a common program compilation and execution pipeline with a cross-platform package manager and customizable and multi-objective auto-/crowd-tuner.

You can add it by editing the .ckr.json file:


 "dict": {
    "repo_deps": [
      {"repo_uoa": "ck-autotuning"}

You then just need to manually install it in the CK. Later it will be automatically pulled with all other sub-dependencies for your CK repository:

$ ck pull repo:ck-crowdtuning

Checking software dependencies

Next you need to determine all explicit software dependencies such as MXNet, Caffe, TensorFlow, BLAS, LLVM, GCC, CUDA, OpenCL and others which you need for your experimental workflow (pipeline).

Please, check if CK already has modules to detect your software dependencies. Most of these modules are available in the ck-env repository. Basically, they allow one to automatically detect all installed versions of required software including models and data sets on a given machine, prepare their virtual environments in such a way that their multiple versions can co-exist on your system without interfering, and register all versions in the CK.

For example, you can detect GCC and LLVM on your machine and register them as CK virtual environment as follows:

$ ck detect soft:compiler.gcc
$ ck detect soft --tags=compiler,llvm

$ ck show env

$ ck show env --tags=compiler

You can then select a given environment or a set of environments and use them similar to Python virtual env via CK:

$ ck virtual env:{above UID}
$ ck virtual env:{above UID1},{above UID2},{above UID3}...

However, if a CK module for a given software doesn't exist, you need to add one yourself as briefly described in this document, and then share it with the community either via ck-env or your own repository.

Adding cross-platform packages

If a CK module is available for required software, but a given version is not detected on a host platform, there are two possibilities.

The simplest one is when CK software detection plugin just prints notes about how to obtain and install a required software, then let user download and install it, and then attempt to detect and register it again.

However, a more convenient way is to provide a related CK package which will automatically download, install and even build required software including code, models and data sets with all sub-dependencies and version ranges for a given platform. Note that CK is customizable enough to support a variety of OS including Linux, Android, Windows and MacOS.

This allows us to automate a very complex process of building Caffe (AI framework) or TensoFlow in a unified way with nearly all sub-dependencies (OpenBLAS, CLBlast, ArmCL ...), programming models (OpenMP, CUDA, OpenCL ...), targets (CPU, GPU ...) and OS (Linux, Windows, MacOS, Android ...).

You can check and reuse already shared packages or add new ones to ck-env repository, ck-math, ck-caffe, ck-tensorflow, ck-mxnet or other related repositories.

You can even tell CK to install packages inside CK env entries to make a proper virtual environment for all tools and their versions:

$ ck set kernel var.install_to_env=yes

Feel free to get in touch with the the CK community if you have questions or suggestions about CK software and packages!

Detecting platform properties in a unified way

Having unified information about diverse platforms is very important for collaborative benchmarking, optimization and co-design of any system.

That is why we developed and shared a number of CK modules with a common API to automate and unify collection of different platform properties needed for portable experimental workflows:

$ ck search module:platform*

You can detect all properties of your platform as follows:

$ ck detect platform

You can detect properties of different target platforms including Android devices as follows:

$ ck ls platform.os | sort
$ ck detect platform --target_os={one of above CK entries}

You can also share information about your platform to be reused by the community as follows:

$ ck detect platform --share

You can see already shared information about platforms participated in our collaborative optimization here:

You can even reuse this info as CK components by connecting the following CK repository:

Note that when you run CK for the very first time, you may be asked to select the most close CK platform description to yours.

CK workflows will then use various platform-specific scripts from the selected entry (for example platform.init:generic-linux such as monitoring or setting up CPU and GPU frequency:

$ ls `ck find platform.init:generic-linux`

You can later change it as follows:

$ ck ls platform.init | sort
$ ck detect platform.os --update_platform_init \
  --platform_init_uoa={one of above CK entries}

You can find more details in this wiki.

Adding portable experimental workflow to build and run project

It is now possible to assemble basic experimental workflow to build and run a given ReQuEST application on any supported platform with any dependencies.

We already provided a CK workflow template to build, run and even autotune any application. You can reuse it by pulling ck-autotuning repository and adding a new program entry:

$ ck pull repo:ck-autotuning
$ ck add request-asplos18-my-workflow:program:request-asplos18-my-program

CK will ask you to select the most close template and will create a working program workflow which you can compile (if needed) and run on your platform as follows:

$ ck compile program:request-asplos18-my-program --speed
$ ck run program:request-asplos18-my-program

You can also find a CK entry with the most similar program shared by the community, copy it to your repository and then customize its JSON meta and scripts. For example, you can reuse Caffe-based image classification program as follows:

$ ck pull repo --url=
$ ck ls ck-caffe:program:
$ ck cp program:caffe-classification request-asplos18-my-workflow:program:request-asplos18-my-program
$ ck cp program:caffe-classification-cuda request-asplos18-my-workflow::request-asplos18-my-program
$ ck cp program:caffe-classification-opencl request-asplos18-my-workflow::request-asplos18-my-program

Then you can edit CK JSON meta description of your new program entry to specify software dependencies described in the previous section, and provide unified scripts to build and run your program depending on the target platform (Linux, Windows, MacOS, Android) as briefly described in this wiki and this tech. report:

$ ck edit program:request-asplos18-my-program
$ vim `ck find program:request-asplos18-my-program`/.cm/meta.json

Since CK uses DevOps and Wikipedia concepts for collaborative R&D, you can just look at some program meta from the community and then adapt yours accordingly!

CK also allows you to record various reference outputs using program.output module and then validate correctness of results across different software, compilers, run-time systems and platforms.

For example, it is possible to check that there are no distorted images, wrong predications or that numerical accuracy is within specific thresholds.

This, in turn, helps the community to crowdsource bug detection across different environments using CK (crowd-fuzzing) as described in this tech. report.

It is then possible to run program workflow (pipeline of CK modules chained together) while collecting different run-time statistics in a unified way as follows:

$ ck pipeline program --help
$ ck pipeline program:request-asplos18-my-program
$ ck benchmark program:request-asplos18-my-program

You can obtain the output characteristics from another CK module or your own Python script as follows:

import ck.kernel as ck

if r['return']>0: ck.err(r)

print (r)

There are multiple ways to customize your pipeline but the most obvious is via environment variables specified via --env.NAME=VALUE as shown in this use-case.

Adding sources of your paper to CK to automate paper generation and sharing with Digital Libraries including ACM and ArXiv.

You can now add a dummy paper which will contain your publication associated with the shared workflow and artifacts as follows:

$ ck add request-asplos18-my-workflow:dissemination.publication:

Remember unique ID (UID) which will be assigned by the CK to your paper - you will need to provide it in the next step when preparing artifact description for sharing with ACM DL.

You can then add paper sources and scripts in a similar way as in this paper:

You can also update the self-explanatory meta information for your paper using the same example:

Note that "name" UID is taken from the Artifact Evaluation repository. If your name is not there, add it via CK and send a PR, or get in touch with ReQuEST organizers:

$ ck add ck-artifact-evaluation::{my name}

Saving results from your workflow

You can run your experiment and save results in a unified and reproducible way as follows:

$ ck benchmark program:request-asplos18-my-program  \
       --record \
       --record_uoa={some-experiment-name} \
       --tags=request,request-asplos18,{some other tags}

You can see recorded results as follows:

$ ck search experiment
$ ck search experiment --tags=request-asplos18

You can then replay such experiment as follows:

$ ck replay experiment:some-experiment-name

Finally, you can pack all experimental results to share with colleagues as follows:

$ ck zip local:experiment:*

CK will create a "" file with CK entries containing raw experimental results.

You can unzip it to the local (or other) repository on another machine via CK as follows:

$ ck unzip repo:local

You can then replay a given experiment on another machine as follows:

$ ck search experiment:* --tags=request-asplos18
$ ck replay experiment:{above names}

You can see more complex experimental workflows here:

Visualizing results on scoreboard for different optimization categories

You can run a local ReQuEST dashboard/scoreboard as follows:

$ ck dashboard request.apslos18

Describing your paper/artifact

Now you can describe your artifact to automate ACM and other proceedings. You need to contact ReQuEST organizers to get information about pre-assigned DOI for your paper, artifact(s) and information about proceedings.

First, you need to add a description of your artifact which has the same UID as your paper (dissemination.publication):

$ ck add artifact:{UID of your paper from above}

Then you should edit it using this artifact as example to provide information about your artifact including ACM badges, license, etc.

Creating interactive report

CK also has a possibility to create interactive articles such as this CK report, however it is not fully automated at the moment and requires many manual steps. However, CK API allow to fully automate this process too and we plan to do it in the future.

Automatically preparing ACM proceedings (on Linux, MacOS or Windows)

If you are a ReQuEST proceedings chair, you can now automatically generate ACM proceedings (all necessary PDF, XML, CSV) as follows:

Install minimal dependencies:

$ sudo apt-get install python python-pip git
$ sudo pip install ck

Install Latex with deps

$ sudo apt-get install texlive-full
$ sudo apt-get install texlive-generic-extra
$ sudo apt-get install texlive-science

Install Python XML support (for ACM DL DTD):

$ sudo pip install lxml

Temporally set new directory with CK repositories to avoid polluting your own CK installation:


Pull all ReQuEST repositories with CK workflows, papers and artifacts:

$ ck pull repo:ck-request-asplos18-results
$ ck pull repo:ck-request-asplos18-results-caffe-intel
$ ck pull repo:ck-request-asplos18-results-iot-farm
$ ck pull repo:ck-request-asplos18-results-mobilenets-armcl-opencl
$ ck pull repo:ck-request-asplos18-results-mobilenets-tvm-arm
$ ck pull repo:ck-request-asplos18-results-resnet-tvm-fpga

Create CK proceedings description using the following example

$ ck add proceedings.acm:request.apslos18

Generate proceedings and ACM meta (paper, CK workflow snapshot, CK results snapshot and zip of the original repository):

$ ck generate proceedings.acm:request.asplos18

Send all generated info to ACM.

You can later see the proceedings in the ACM DL, such as the ones of the 1st ReQuEST tournament at ASPLOS'18:

Next steps

After a successful proof-of-concept of our approach during the 1st ReQuEST tournament at ACM ASPLOS'18, we now work with the community, our advisory board and ACM to continue improving CK framework and documentation, adding more tutorials, standardizing API and meta descriptions, unifying co-design methodology and automating Artifact Evaluation at existing conferences and journals.

Questions and comments

Feel free to contact ReQuEST organizers, communicate with the community via CK mailing list, discuss Artifact Evaluation, or join our LinkedIn group on reproducible R&D.


Collective Knowledge workflows to support ReQuEST tournaments (open, reproducible and Pareto-efficient SW/HW co-design of emerging workloads such as deep learning):







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