Collage Inference: Achieving low tail latency during distributed image classification using coded redundancy models

Krishna Narra, Zhifeng Lin, Ganesh Ananthanarayanan, Salman Avestimehr, Murali Annavaram

Reducing the latency variance in machine learning inference is a key requirement in many applications. Variance is harder to control in a cloud deployment in the presence of stragglers. In spite of this challenge, inference is increasingly being done in the cloud, due to the advent of affordable machine learning as a service (MLaaS) platforms. Existing approaches to reduce variance rely on replication which is expensive and partially negates the affordability of MLaaS. In this work, we argue that MLaaS platforms also provide unique opportunities to cut the cost of redundancy. In MLaaS platforms, multiple inference requests are concurrently received by a load balancer which can then create a more cost-efficient redundancy coding across a larger collection of images. We propose a novel convolutional neural network model, Collage-CNN, to provide a low-cost redundancy framework. A Collage-CNN model takes a collage formed by combining multiple images and performs multi-image classification in one shot, albeit at slightly lower accuracy. We then augment a collection of traditional single image classifiers with a single Collage-CNN classifier which acts as a low-cost redundant backup. Collage-CNN then provides backup classification results if a single image classification straggles. Deploying the Collage-CNN models in the cloud, we demonstrate that the 99th percentile tail latency of inference can be reduced by 1.47X compared to replication based approaches while providing high accuracy. Also, variation in inference latency can be reduced by 9X with a slight increase in average inference latency.

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