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From Przemysław Trędak <>
Subject Re: Making new operators and AMP lists
Date Wed, 29 May 2019 18:25:46 GMT
Thank you all for responding.

Let me address a few misunderstandings about AMP in the discussion so far:
 - I think the main misunderstanding in the discussion so far is that it would be somehow
possible to implicitly cast to FP32 all previously unseen operators. I would much prefer such
solution myself, however this is actually (unfortunately) not really possible. The technical
reason for that is the only place from which one can get MXNet operators is MXListAllOps call,
which gives back all operators without any way of differentiating them, including for example
calls to optimizers. If somebody added a new optimizer and AMP inserts a FP32 cast before
its input, the optimizer would actually update the FP32 copy of the tensor instead of the
tensor itself. This is not a performance problem (which, I agree, would be perfectly fine
to solve later) - it is a correctness problem. That is why the error message in the test explicitly
mentions this case as one where the operator should be put in the list that does not make
any casts.
 - The second misunderstanding is that the ask from the test is to somehow "add support" for
AMP in the operator. That is definitely not true and adding a single line in either FP32_FUNCS
(cast me always to FP32) or FP16_FP32_FUNCS (do not do anything with me because I'm not relevant
for this usecase) is perfectly fine. It is up to people like me actively working on better
FP16 support to go through the FP32 list to introduce support and then move such operator
to another list.
 - The third (although minor) misunderstanding is that this feature is completely GPU-specific.
It is not, and actually the review comment that prompted me to introduce the design as is
currently implemented comes from MKLDNN developer :-).

About the proposal to move it from Python list into a operator property - I am in favor of
it and, as Anirudh mentioned, this should make it much easier when just adding aliases to
the operators. But again, this could not be an optional parameter unfortunately since automatic
"put me in FP32 list" is not possible.
About the proposal to change the error into a warning and then rely on people interested in
AMP to adding operators to AMP lists - I do not like this proposal because of user experience
that it would introduce. Basically what would happen is a user who downloads nightly build
of MXNet (because they needed a feature introduced after last official release) would likely
find that AMP is broken in that build because it happened between updates to the AMP lists.
The test ensures that the list is updated at the same time as new operator is introduced.
This is a question really of how do we treat nightly releases - should the user expect for
all the features to generally work in them or not? If the Community thinks that it is acceptable
outcome then I am fine with the proposal and regularly updating those lists myself.

Thank you

On 2019/05/28 21:32:42, Przemys��aw Tr��dak <> wrote: 
> Dear Community,
> One of the recently merged features of the 1.5 release, AMP (Automatic Mixed Precision)
support (PR [1], design doc [5]), introduced a requirement that every new operator added to
MXNet would need to be present in 1 of the lists (in [2]). To make sure that this requirement
is not broken when somebody adds a new operator and does not know about AMP's existence, a
test was added to CI ([3]).
> A few people reached out to me (the original author of the feature) saying this test
increases a burden on a developer of new operators and should not be an actual error, but
just warning (PR for that change [4]). That is why I would like to present a motivation for
it and discuss with the wider audience why I feel it was necessary.
> First, for people who do not know the details of what AMP is - it is a solution that
tries to automatically apply best practices of training in lower precision (FP16) to user's
FP32 model in order to fully utilize capabilities of modern GPUs (and potentially other hardware
in the future). It does so by casting to lower precision inputs to operators benefitting from
it, while casting to full precision inputs of operators that are unsafe to run in lower precision
or just do not support it.
> The first iteration of AMP kept 2 main lists of operators - operators that are beneficial
and safe to do in fp16 and operators that need to be cast to FP32. The problem (raised in
review of the PR [6], [8]) is how to make sure that the feature works as intended and is not
inadvertently broken by somebody adding a new operator. The failure scenario here is adding
a new operator that does not support FP16 and so should be cast to FP32, but AMP does not
know about its existence and so does not do the casting. The solution proposed in the review
was to implicitly treat all of the unknown operators as FP32-only and keep the list of operators
that work fine in both FP16 and FP32. This solution however does not really work, because
there are multiple operators (most notably optimizers) where introducing additional casting
of the input to FP32 would break the operator.
> That is why after discussion with a few members of the community, I decided to proceed
with all lists being explicit and introducing the test that would fail when somebody added
an operator without classifying it into 1 of the categories, and explain clearly how to do
it [7]. It is not ideal solution, as it introduces some burden on the developers who are not
aware about AMP, however in the typical case of adding at most a few operators to MXNet the
inconvenience is I think pretty minor while important for the feature correctness going forward.
> I would like to gather Community feedback and ideas how to handle this situation.
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]
> [5]
> [6]
> [7]
> [8]

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