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Static Automatic Batching in TensorFlow

Ashish Agarwal
ICML (2019)


Dynamic neural networks are becoming increasingly common, and yet it is hard to implement them efficiently. On-the-fly operation batching for such models is sub-optimal and suffers from run time overheads, while writing manually batched versions can be hard and error-prone. To address this, we extend TensorFlow with pfor, a parallel-for loop optimized using static loop vectorization. With pfor, users can express computation using nested loops and conditional constructs, but get performance resembling that of a manually batched version. Benchmarks demonstrate speedups of one to two orders of magnitude on a range of tasks, from Jacobian computation, to auto-batching Graph Neural Networks.