Optimizing Redundancy Levels in Master-Worker Compute Clusters for Straggler Mitigation

Mehmet Fatih Aktas, Emina Soljanin

Runtime variability in computing systems causes some tasks to straggle and take much longer than expected to complete. These straggler tasks are known to significantly slowdown distributed computation. Job execution with speculative execution of redundant tasks has been the most widely deployed technique for mitigating the impact of stragglers, and many recent theoretical papers have studied the advantages and disadvantages of using redundancy under various system and service models. However, no clear guidelines could yet be found on when, for which jobs, and how much redundancy should be employed in Master-Worker compute clusters, which is the most widely adopted architecture in modern compute systems. We are concerned with finding a strategy for scheduling jobs with redundancy that works well in practice. This is a complex optimization problem, which we address in stages. We first use Reinforcement Learning (RL) techniques to learn good scheduling principles from realistic experience. Building on these principles, we derive a simple scheduling policy and present an approximate analysis of its performance. Specifically, we derive expressions to decide when and which jobs should be scheduled with how much redundancy. We show that policy that we devise in this way performs as good as the more complex policies that are derived by RL. Finally, we extend our approximate analysis to the case when system employs the other widely deployed remedy for stragglers, which is relaunching straggler tasks after waiting some time. We show that scheduling with redundancy significantly outperforms straggler relaunch policy when the offered load on the system is low or moderate, and performs slightly worse when the offered load is very high.

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