Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Application Domains

Data Aware Batch Scheduling

Large scale high performance computing platforms are becoming increasingly complex. Determining efficient allocation and scheduling strategies that can adapt to technological evolutions is a strategic and difficult challenge. We are interested in scheduling jobs in hierarchical and heterogeneous large scale platforms. On such platforms, application developers typically submit their jobs in centralized waiting queues. The job management system aims at determining a suitable allocation for the jobs, which all compete against each other for the available computing resources. Performances are measured using different classical metrics like maximum completion time or slowdown. Current systems make use of very simple (but fast) algorithms that however rely on simplistic platform and execution models, and thus, have limited performances.

For all target scheduling problems we aim to provide both theoretical analysis and complementary analysis through simulations. Achieving meaningful results will require strong improvements on existing models (on power for example) and the design of new approximation algorithms with various objectives such as stretch, reliability, throughput or energy consumption, while keeping in focus the need for a low-degree polynomial complexity.


The most common batch scheduling policy is to consider the jobs according to the First Come First Served order (FCFS) with backfilling (BF). BF is the most widely used policy due to its easy and robust implementation and known benefits such as high system utilization. It is well-known that this strategy does not optimize any sophisticated function, but it is simple to implement and it guarantees that there is no starvation (i.e. every job will be scheduled at some moment).

More advanced algorithms are seldom used on production platforms due to both the gap between theoretical models and practical systems and speed constraints. When looking at theoretical scheduling problems, the generally accepted goal is to provide polynomial algorithms (in the number of submitted jobs and the number of involved computing units). However, with millions of processing cores where every process and data transfer have to be individually scheduled, polynomial algorithms are prohibitive as soon as the polynomial degree is too large. The model of parallel tasks simplifies this problem by bundling many threads and communications into single boxes, either rigid, rectangular or malleable. Especially malleable tasks capture the dynamicity of the execution. Yet these models are ill-adapted to heterogeneous platforms, as the running time depends on more than simply the number of allotted resources, and some of the common underlying assumptions on the speed-up functions (such as monotony or concavity) are most often only partially verified.

In practice, the job execution times depend on their allocation (due to communication interferences and heterogeneity in both computation and communication), while theoretical models of parallel jobs usually consider jobs as black boxes with a fixed (maximum) execution time. Though interesting and powerful, the classical models (namely, synchronous PRAM model, delay, LogP) and their variants (such as hierarchical delay), are not well-suited to large scale parallelism on platforms where the cost of moving data is significant, non uniform and may change over time. Recent studies are still refining such models in order to take into account communication contentions more accurately while remaining tractable enough to provide a useful tool for algorithm design.

Today, all algorithms in use in production systems are oblivious to communications. One of our main goals is to design a new generation of scheduling algorithms fitting more closely job schedules according to platform topologies.

Locality Aware Allocations

Recently, we developed modifications of the standard back-filling algorithm taking into account platform topologies. The proposed algorithms take into account locality and contiguity in order to hide communication patterns within parallel tasks. The main result here is to establish good lower bounds and small approximation ratios for policies respecting the locality constraints. The algorithms work in an online fashion, improving the global behavior of the system while still keeping a low running time. These improvements rely mainly on our past experience in designing approximation algorithms. Instead of relying on complex networking models and communication patterns for estimating execution times, the communications are disconnected from the execution time. Then, the scheduling problem leads to a trade-off: optimizing locality of communications on one side and a performance objective (like the makespan or stretch) on the other side.

In the perspective of taking care of locality, other ongoing works include the study of schedulers for platforms whose interconnection network is a static structured topology (like the 3D-torus of the BlueWaters platform we work on in collaboration with the Argonne National Laboratory). One main characteristic of this 3D-torus platform is to provide I/O nodes at specific locations in the topology. Applications generate and access specific data and are thus bounded to specific I/O nodes. Resource allocations are constrained in a strong and unusual way. This problem is close for actual hierarchical platforms. The scheduler needs to compute a schedule such that I/O nodes requirements are filled for each application while at the same time avoiding communication interferences. Moreover, extra constraints can arise for applications requiring accelerators that are gathered on the nodes at the edge of the network topology.

While current results are encouraging, they are however limited in performance by the low amount of information available to the scheduler. We look forward to extend ongoing work by progressively increasing application and network knowledge (by technical mechanisms like profiling or monitoring or by more sophisticated methods like learning). It is also important to anticipate on application resource usage in terms of compute units, memory as well as network and I/Os to efficiently schedule a mix of applications with different profiles. For instance, a simple solution is to partition the jobs as "communication intensive" or "low communications". Such a tag could be achieved by the users them selves or obtained by learning techniques. We could then schedule low communications jobs using leftover spaces while taking care of high communication jobs. More sophisticated options are possible, for instance those that use more detailed communication patterns and networking models. Such options would leverage the work proposed in Section 4.2 for gathering application traces.

Data-Centric Processing

Exascale computing is shifting away from the traditional compute-centric models to a more data-centric one. This is driven by the evolving nature of large scale distributed computing, no longer dominated by pure computations but also by the need to handle and analyze large volumes of data. These data can be large databases of results, data streamed from a running application or another scientific instrument (collider for instance). These new workloads call for specific resource allocation strategies.

Data movements and storage are expected to be a major energy and performance bottleneck on next generation platforms. Storage architectures are also evolving, the standard centralized parallel file system being complemented with local persistent storage (Burst Buffers, NVRAM). Thus, one data producer can stage data on some nodes' local storage, requiring to schedule close by the associated analytics tasks to limit data movements. This kind of configuration, often referred as in-situ analytics, is expected to become common as it enables to switch from the traditional I/O intensive workflow (batch-processing followed by post mortem analysis and visualization) to a more storage conscious approach where data are processed as closely as possible to where and when they are produced (in-situ processing is addressed in details in section 4.3). By reducing data movements and scheduling the extra processing on resources not fully exploited yet, in-situ processing is expected to have also a significant positive energetic impact. Analytics codes can be executed in the same nodes than the application, often on dedicated cores commonly called helper cores, or on dedicated nodes called stagging nodes. The results are either forwarded to the users for visualization or saved to disk through I/O nodes. In-situ analytics can also take benefit of node local disks or burst buffers to reduce data movements. Future job scheduling strategies should take into account in-situ processes in addition to the job allocation to optimize both energy consumption and execution time. On the one hand, this problem can be reduced to an allocation problem of extra asynchronous tasks to idle computing units. But on the other hand, embedding analytics in applications brings extra difficulties by making the application more heterogeneous and imposing more constraints (data affinity) on the required resources. Thus, the main point here is to develop efficient algorithms for dealing with heterogeneity without increasing the global computational cost.


Another important issue is to adapt the job management system to deal with the bad effects of uncertainties, which may be catastrophic in large scale heterogeneous HPC platforms (jobs delayed arbitrarly far or jobs killed). A natural question is then: is it possible to have a good estimation of the job and platform parameters in order to be able to obtain a better scheduling ? Many important parameters (like the number or type of required resources or the estimated running time of the jobs) are asked to the users when they submit their jobs. However, some of these values are not accurate and in many cases, they are not even provided by the end-users. In DataMove, we propose to study new methods for a better prediction of the characteristics of the jobs and their execution in order to improve the optimization process. In particular, the methods well-studied in the field of big data (in supervised Machine Learning, like classical regression methods, Support Vector Methods, random forests, learning to rank techniques or deep learning) could and must be used to improve job scheduling in large scale HPC platforms. This topic received a great attention recently in the field of parallel and distributed processing. A preliminary study has been done recently by our team with the target of predicting the job running times (called wall times). We succeeded to improve significantly in average the reference EASY Back Filling algorithm by estimating the wall time of the jobs, however, this method leads to big delay for the stretch of few jobs. Even if we succeed in determining more precisely hidden parameters, like the wall time of the jobs, this is not enough to determine an optimized solution. The shift is not only to learn on dedicated parameters but also on the scheduling policy. The data collected from the accounting and profiling of jobs can be used to better understand the needs of the jobs and through learning to propose adaptations for future submissions. The goal is to propose extensions to further improve the job scheduling and improve the performance and energy efficiency of the application. For instance preference learning may enable to compute on-line new priorities to back-fill the ready jobs.

Multi-objective Optimization

Several optimization questions that arise in allocation and scheduling problems lead to the study of several objectives at the same time. The goal is then not a single optimal solution, but a more complicated mathematical object that captures the notion of trade-off. In broader terms, the goal of multi-objective optimization is not to externally arbitrate on disputes between entities with different goals, but rather to explore the possible solutions to highlight the whole range of interesting compromises. A classical tool for studying such multi-objective optimization problems is to use Pareto curves. However, the full description of the Pareto curve can be very hard because of both the number of solutions and the hardness of computing each point. Addressing this problem will opens new methodologies for the analysis of algorithms.

To further illustrate this point here are three possible case studies with emphasis on conflicting interests measured with different objectives. While these cases are good representatives of our HPC context, there are other pertinent trade-offs we may investigate depending on the technology evolution in the coming years. This enumeration is certainly not limitative.

Energy versus Performance. The classical scheduling algorithms designed for the purpose of performance can no longer be used because performance and energy are contradictory objectives to some extent. The scheduling problem with energy becomes a multi-objective problem in nature since the energy consumption should be considered as equally important as performance at exascale. A global constraint on energy could be a first idea for determining trade-offs but the knowledge of the Pareto set (or an approximation of it) is also very useful.

Administrators versus application developers. Both are naturally interested in different objectives: In current algorithms, the performance is mainly computed from the point of view of administrators, but the users should be in the loop since they can give useful information and help to the construction of better schedules. Hence, we face again a multi-objective problem where, as in the above case, the approximation of the Pareto set provides the trade-off between the administrator view and user demands. Moreover, the objectives are usually of the same nature. For example, max stretch and average stretch are two objectives based on the slowdown factor that can interest administrators and users, respectively. In this case the study of the norm of stretch can be also used to describe the trade-off (recall that the L1-norm corresponds to the average objective while the L-norm to the max objective). Ideally, we would like to design an algorithm that gives good approximate solutions at the same time for all norms. The L2 or L3-norm are useful since they describe the performance of the whole schedule from the administrator point of view as well as they provide a fairness indication to the users. The hard point here is to derive theoretical analysis for such complicated tools.

Resource Augmentation. The classical resource augmentation models, i.e. speed and machine augmentation, are not sufficient to get good results when the execution of jobs cannot be frequently interrupted. However, based on a resource augmentation model recently introduced, where the algorithm may reject a small number of jobs, some members of our team have given the first interesting results in the non-preemptive direction. In general, resource augmentation can explain the intuitive good behavior of some greedy algorithms while, more interestingly, it can give ideas for new algorithms. For example, in the rejection context we could dedicate a small number of nodes for the usually problematic rejected jobs. Some initial experiments show that this can lead to a schedule for the remaining jobs that is very close to the optimal one.