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Dynamic Tensor Rematerialization (DTR) Prototype

DTR Authors: Marisa Kirisame, Steven Lyubomirsky, Altan Haan, Jennifer Brennan, Mike He, Jared Roesch, Tianqi Chen, Zachary Tatlock

Archive Contents

This archive contains the following:

  • data_files: Data produced from runs in the prototype evaluation figures
  • dtr_configs: Configuration files for running the prototype DTR implementation
  • dtr_code: DTR prototype implementation and infrastructure for running the experimental evaluation
  • simrd: Simulator implementation and logs used to generate figures in the simulated evaluation
  • checkmate_comp: Modified version of Jain et al's MLSys 2020 reproducibility artifact that includes comparisons against simrd as a solver

Note: We ran the simulated and prototype evaluation using Python 3.7.4 on an Ubuntu 18.04 machine with an NVidia Titan-V GPU (12 GB memory), using CUDA 10.1 and CuDNN 7.5.4. We documented every dependency we were aware of, but it is possible that we were unaware of OS-level dependenices.

Running the DTR Simulator

The simulator is named "simrd": Simulated (tensor) rematerialization, dynamic


Step 1. Install Anaconda and set up environment

Install the Anaconda Python environment manager from Next, create and activate the dtr-iclr21 environment:

conda create -n dtr-iclr21 python=3.7
conda activate dtr-iclr21

Now, export the PYTHONPATH to include this directory, so that the experiments can locate the necessary files:


Step 2. Install dependencies and unzip logs

Install the dependencies for the simulator by running (in the new environment):

python -m pip install -r requirements.txt

The simulator comes with logs so that they do not need to be gathered, although we provide instructions for gathering logs in the prototype folder. These logs have been zipped to Extract them to the logs folder:


Run Simulations and Plotting

Finally, run the simulated evaluation by running

python simrd_experiments/eval/pareto/

The resulting data and figures can be found under the data directory. Note that this can take a few hours due to the ablation study.

DTR vs Checkmate Baselines


Step 0: Set up DTR simulator (simrd)

First, follow the setup instructions for the DTR simulator (simrd), which should be bundled with this in the parent directory.

Step 1: Install Anaconda

Make sure that you have created the DTR Anaconda environment and have it activated, as per the simulator instructions. Activate the environment by:

conda activate dtr-iclr21

Step 2: Install the Checkmate remat package and dependencies

From this directory,

$ conda install -c conda-forge python-graphviz
$ pip install -e .

Next, install tensorflow with

$ pip install tensorflow==2.0.1

Step 3: Install Gurobi

Checkmate uses the Gurobi optimziation library to solve an integer linear program that chooses a recomputation schedule for a given neural network architecture. This requires a license to Gurobi, which is free for academic use. The grbgetkey command used below must be run on a computer connected to a university network directly or via a VPN.

  1. Please follow these instructions to install Gurobi on your system: For example, on Linux, follow
  2. Make an academic account with Gurobi at:
  3. Request an acadmic license at:
  4. Install the license by running the grbgetkey command at the end of the page. Ensure you are on an academic network like Airbears2 for UC Berkeley. If you save the license to a non-default location (outside your home directory), you will need to export the GRB_LICENSE_FILE variable with the path to the licence.
  5. Set up the gurobipy Anaconda channel by running conda config --add channels
  6. Install gurobipy by running: conda install gurobi

Reproducing Figure 2: Computational overhead versus memory budget

We have provided a reproduceability script adapted from Checkmate's, as

First, run the Checkmate baselines:

bash baselines

Note that the Checkmate baselines include Checkmate's ILP solver, which took up to 24 hours on our machine to complete in total for the models.

Then, run the DTR simulator (simrd):

bash simrd

Lastly, plot the results:

bash plot

The results will be saved under data/budget_sweep.

Running the Prototype Implementation

Executive Summary

All one-time setup is collected in Once all the setup is complete, a configuration of the prototype can be run by calling ./dashboard/dashboard/ ./dtr_home ./dtr_eval/dtr_experiments

Important: Please ensure the configuration variable sync_gpu is set to true to put PyTorch into blocking mode before running timing trials. This is required to ensure the correctness of DTR's profiling timings.

You can change the configuration of the prototype by substituting dtr_home/config/experiments/pareto_curve/config.json with one of the configuration files in dtr_configs. See below for how to post a summary to Slack (most convenient). Any visualizations produced will be found in dtr_home/results/experiments/graph and data files (like those in data_files) will be in dtr_home/results/experiments/data. If logging is enabled in the configuration ("save_logs"), logs will be deposited in ~/dtr_logs (configurable under "log_dest").

To reproduce the graph in Figure 5 without having to rerun the eval, you can run ./dtr_code/graphing_util/ dtr_configs/full-run-config.json data_files/data-full.json.

Commands and Reading Results

These experiments use a dashboard infrastructure provided in the dashboard directory. They rely on configurations that are given in dtr_home (namely in dtr_home/config/experiments/pareto_curve/config.json). Results will be posted in dtr_home/results/experiments/data (processed data in a JSON format), dtr_home/results/experiments/summary (a more human-readable text summary), and dtr_home/results/experiments/graph (graphs).

It is recommended, though not necessary, that you use the dashboard's Slack integration to post results to Slack (requires a webhook URL, which can be created by following the steps here: This functionality can be configured in dtr_home/config/subsystem/exp_results/config.json (filling in the webhook URL field).

We provide two configs in dtr_configs that can be used for running the same experiments as in the paper:

  • full-run-config.json for generating the prototype data used in the profiling comparison in Figure 4
  • table-data-run-config.json for generating the prototype performance data reported in Table 1

Simply substitute one of these files for the config in dtr_home/config/experiments/pareto_curve/config.json (please ensure it will still be named config.json) in order to run with their settings.

Once configured, the dashboard can be invoked as follows:

./dashboard/dashboard/ ./dtr_home ./dtr_eval/dtr_experiments

Creating the PyTorch Code

Due to PyTorch's use of submodules and our own additional dependencies, we do need to provide a properly configured git repository with a history. We do this by providing a git patch that, if applied to the correct commit of PyTorch, will restore our code. The file is provded as dtr-implementation.patch.

The following steps will restore the PyTorch code:

git clone --recursive dtr_pytorch
cd dtr_pytorch
# the commit we started from
git checkout d15b9d980c0cd504ce6e82db4e88f66cee7e0289
git submodule sync
git submodule update --init --recursive

# patch modifies submodules too so sync again after applying
git am --signoff < ../dtr-implementation.patch
git submodule sync
git submodule update --init --recursive

Global Dependencies

The version of PyTorch used for developing DTR depends on having CUDA 10.1 and a version of CuDNN that is compatible with it. Building PyTorch also requires a C++ compiler that can support at least C++14. (The README for PyTorch lists various other dependencies, but we found that we were able to successfully build PyTorch using develop without them, oddly.)

The script in dashboard/dashboard ensures that references to CUDA and CuDNN are found on the user's PATH, which is necessary for PyTorch (including the standard distribution) to work.

Python Dependencies

Requires the dependencies in requirements.txt. Please install these files in whatever Python environments you wish to use by running pip3 install -r requirements.txt. This should also be done for the venv for installing the DTR-modified PyTorch (dtr_venv/bin/pip3 install -r requirements.txt).

The Unrolled GAN implementation in dtr_eval/shared/torch_models/unroll_gan also requires the library Higher, which could not be included in requirements.txt, so if you want to execute that model for logging, you must install Higher as follows:

git clone
cd higher
pip3 install .
~/dtr_venv/bin/pip3 install .

DTR Setup

In order to compare DTR-modified PyTorch with the baseline directly, these experiments assume that you have installed the DTR-modified PyTorch to a Python venv, whose location you can specify in the relevant experiment's dtr_torch_cmd config field (expects a path to a python binary in a venv where the DTR Pytorch is installed as torch).

You can create and initialize a suitable virtual environment by doing the following:

python3 -m venv ~/dtr_venv
~/dtr_venv/bin/pip3 install -r dtr_code/requirements.txt
cd dtr_code/dtr_pytorch
# warning: the first build may take a long time, perhaps over an hour
~/dtr_venv/bin/python3 develop

Once these steps are finished, ~/dtr_venv/bin/python3 will point to a Python executable with all appropriate depdencies installed and with DTR's PyTorch present.

Supported Models

See dtr_eval/shared/ for a list of all included models, taken from various public implementations (noted in their definitions in dtr_eval/shared/torch_models).

Saving DTR Logs

The config provides the options save_logs (false by default) and log_dest (only used if save_logs is true) to copy over the DTR logs produced in an experiment, if any are produced. If save_logs is set to true, the experiment will copy over the last log produced when running a command to the specified destination directory. This allows for producing logs (which contain timings) to benefit from the warm-up runs in the dashboard.

The final run in the log will be marked with a "START" annotation.

Experiment Commands

See dtr_configs/ for a description of configuration settings.

To add commands for the experiment of a model, add a JSONObject that has the following structure:

  "<model_name>" : [<command>]

Where <command> has the following structure:

  "type" : ["baseline" | "dtr"],
  "kind" : ["fixed" | "ratio"],
  "memory_budget" : [number+],
  "ratio" : [real+]

For a ratio command, the infrastructure will first run a baseline trial and record the maximum memory allocated and then calculate the memory_budget based on the ratio given in the command config.

For a fixed command, the infrastructure will run the model using dtr with the memory_budget provided in the command config.

If there are fields other than type and kind defined as a list, the command will be unfolded using the Cartesian Product of those list fields and run each setting. This can blow up quickly so try to avoid doing this too often.

Note that kind should be defined iff the type of a command is dtr. For a fixed command, at least one memory_budget should be provided. For a ratio command, at least one ratio number should be provided.


Dynamic Tensor Rematerialization prototype (modified PyTorch) and simulator. Paper:






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