This page documents a sub-task of the HPC adaptation project at UiO; please see the TitanTop page for background.

For the first few weeks of the project, participants from both groups will establish a shared knowledge of the relevant DELPH-IN tools, standard tasks and use patterns, and their interaction with the HPC environment. This work package will be organized as a series of hands-on 'walk-through' sessions, most likely at a rate of about one half day per week. The main result of this phase in the project will be a mutual, in-depth understanding of the available resources, requirements, and limitations in current software versions. This knowledge will be documented through a collection of collaboratively authored wiki pags.

Based on the observations made in the initial project phase, VD and user staff will jointly adapt and 'package' DELPH-IN tools for batch processing, i.e. prepare a gradual shift of use patterns, away from the currently predominant interactive style. This work package will create a standard set of job scripts and configuration mechanisms that automate common tasks and provide a good balance between ease of use and flexibility, i.e. user customization of relevant parameters. The resources developed in this work package will be contributed as new open-source components to the DELPH-IN repository.

TITAN-Specific Files

There is a preliminary collection of TITAN-specific files, including a few (imperfect) SLURM job scripts in the sub-directory uio/titan/ inside the LOGON tree. Note that, while we are experimenting, these files may change frequently. Please remember to always make update in $LOGONROOT often.


Parsing a corpus (i.e. a sequence of sentences) is an 'embarassingly parallel' problem, in the sense that processing each sentence is completely independent of other sentences. In parsing, memory usage is comparatively tame: each parser client (process), typically, is limited to a maximum process size of 1G, and the controller (process) tends to run in less than 2G. However, parsing is quite memory-intense, in the sense of actively writing (frequently) to and reading from large blocks of memory. For multi-core nodes, it may be worthwhile to watch out for possible saturation of the memory sub-system (see below).

The [incr tsdb()] controller (written predominantly in Lisp) supports parallelization (and distribution) across nodes at the sentence level, using PVM. The parser itself is part of the PET package, implemented in C++ (with critical routines in pure C). A typical interactive parser invocation could be the following:

  $LOGONROOT/parse --erg+tnt --count 7 --best 500 cb

The parse command is a shell script that will (a) launch the controller; (b) load the grammar identified as erg+tnt (the English Resource Grammar, ERG, used in conjunction with the TnT tagger); (c) use PVM routines to create 7 PET client processes for parsing; (d) configure the parsing environment to return up to 500 most probable parses; and (e) work through the corpus identified as cb (The Cathedral and the Bazaar). The parse script and a few more existing LOGON scripts are discussed in more detail on the LogonProcessing pages.

By default, [incr tsdb()] will launch a PVM daemon on the current node if necessary (i.e. if there is no existing daemon on that node for the current user). That means that putting seven PET clients on a single eight-core node is easy, as would be putting 31 such clients on a 32-core node. To take advantage of multiple nodes, however, PVM initialization will need to be informed of the set of nodes (and number of cores per node available), i.e. inspect $SLURM_JOB_NODELIST and friends. StephanOepen used to have half-baked script support to retrieve that information from the older SGE environment, then create a PVM initialization file (.pvm_hosts), and then ask [incr tsdb()] to use all available PVM nodes. These steps should be adapted for SLURM, made robust (to a certain degree), and supported in standard scripts.

Running on c-4-21 (on June 17, 14:30), here is a typical picture; tcheap is the name of the PET parsing binary:

  top - 14:23:29 up 34 days,  1:24,  1 user,  load average: 6.57, 4.80, 2.26
  Tasks: 183 total,   9 running, 174 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
  Cpu(s): 83.3%us,  0.8%sy,  0.0%ni, 15.8%id,  0.0%wa,  0.0%hi,  0.1%si,  0.0%st
  Mem:  16444168k total,  6499380k used,  9944788k free,   204284k buffers
  Swap: 25165812k total,    20644k used, 25145168k free,   195444k cached

   5423 oe        25   0  623m 603m 6120 R  100  3.8   4:55.92 tcheap
   5424 oe        25   0  593m 573m 6052 R  100  3.6   5:12.39 tcheap
   5419 oe        19   0  824m 801m 6052 R   93  5.0   5:25.01 tcheap
   5420 oe        16   0  532m 512m 6052 R   84  3.2   5:20.30 tcheap
   5422 oe        19   0  611m 592m 6052 R   80  3.7   5:01.27 tcheap
   5421 oe        21   0  433m 413m 6052 R   73  2.6   4:52.51 tcheap
   5425 oe        18   0  477m 457m 6052 R   68  2.8   5:05.77 tcheap
   5195 oe        15   0 1263m 1.0g  10m S   52  6.6   3:22.78 alisp
   6204 oe        15   0 12720 1144  820 R    0  0.0   0:00.16 top
   5038 oe        19   0 67040 1472 1168 S    0  0.0   0:00.11 slurm_script
   5188 oe        20   0 62808 1296 1056 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 parse
   5196 oe        18   0 58896  544  460 S    0  0.0   0:00.03 tee
   5418 oe        15   0  6148  752  448 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 pvmd3
   5484 oe        18   0 64820 2476  884 S    0  0.0   0:00.05 tsdb
   6158 oe        15   0 69276 1684 1212 S    0  0.0   0:00.04 bash

I believe the picture is different on the 'fat' nodes, in that all seven parsers would manage to consume close to 100% cpu. I believe [incr tsdb()] is unable to keep more than 15 to 20 parsers fully loaded, but the effect observed above may indicate memory congestion.

Another recurrent problem is that of synchronization across jobs: following an update from SVN, the first job to run may need to re-compile one or more of the [incr tsdb()] Lisp files (in fact, after a make clean, all Lisp source files will be re-compiled). If another job starts before re-compilation is complete, it will potentially also decide to re-compile the same files, and then both processes will write to the same object file. Presumably we could extend the defsystem() load and compile methods, so as to first try to get a lock on the object file, and only decide whether or not to re-compile once the lock is available. A somewhat cruder (and potentially simpler) solution would be to wrap a locking mechanism around the entire load-up sequence for [incr tsdb()], i.e. block any processes from loading and initializing [incr tsdb()] while another job is already in the 'critical' block.

(MaxEnt) Model Training and Testing

The task of learning the parameters of a statistical model, say to rank alternate parses by probability, is substantially more cpu- and memory-intensive than parsing. The task is typically broken down into three sub-tasks: (a) preparing a so-called feature cache, extracting all relevant information from the original training data (a so-called treebank) and storing it as a Berkeley DB (depending on the size of the training date, feature caches can vary between 10G and 100G in size); (b) perfoming a so-called grid search for best-performing feature choices and estimation (hyper-)parameters (typically using cross-validation, i.e. repeatedly training on ninety percent of the total data and testing on the remaining ten); and (c) training and serializing an actual model, reflecting the parameters found to work best during the grid search.

Questions and Answers

(1) Where do I get feedback on why my jobs fail?

Unfortunately, SLURM does not provide feedback in situations like this, because it is not the queue system that kills the job: --mem-per-cpu (and similar options) cause the queue system to set ulimit(3)s for the process(es), so in the end it is the OS that kills the job (or makes malloc(3)s fail, and so on) [thanks to Bjørn-Helge Mevik].

I still wonder about two things: SGE, i believe, does provide this kind of feedback; how is that accomplished? Furthermore, several of the typical DELPH-IN jobs are quite memory-hungy, and seeing that part of the software is implemented in Lisp there can be substantial variation in process size (e.g. whenenver a gc() concludes with a need to grow the Lisp heap) it might be worthwhile to look for a generic way of retrieving struct rusage information (for the child process, once it died) from the job script.

(2) How can I set common, per-user SLURM defaults?

It would seem this functionality is not supported in SLURM [thanks to Bjørn-Helge Mevik].

However, for some of the common options it may still be possible to set environment variables to default values, e.g. SBATCH_ACCOUNT and SBATCH_TIMELIMIT.

(3) Can I pass command-line arguments into SLURM job scripts?

Yes, sbatch stops consuming command-line options as soon as it sees the first option that it does not recognize as its own; that option and all following are available as parameters to the job script (e.g. accessible as $1, $@, and so on). As of 16-jun, the following seems to work (requesting one node and eight cores, hardwired in the job script):

  /usr/bin/sbatch $LOGONROOT/uio/titan/parse --erg+tnt --best 500 cb

However, the default sbatch in the standard PATH on TITAN is a local wrapper script that cannot currently (as of April 2010) handle additional command-line arguments. In general, it is advisable to use the standard sbatch wrapper, which will provide a number of sanity checks and sensible default settings; but if one absolutely depends on giving additional arguments on the command line, then using /usr/bin/sbatch is an okay work-around (at your own risk :-).

(4) How do I monitor cpu usage for my user and project account(s)?

(5) How to find out why my job is being held by the scheduler?

The answer is actually provided in the TITAN User Guide: the vast majority of nodes have 16G in physical RAM, but for various reasons somewhat less than that is available for user jobs. For jobs requesting more than about 15G of RAM, it is recommend to put them into into the 'hugemen' queue [thanks to Ole Widar Saastad and Bjørn-Helge Mevik].

I have now changed the 'parse' job script to request --mem-per-cpu=1792M (June 17, 13:30), and after about ten minutes the job was scheduled allright. At the same time, I am trying --partition=lowpri too, but in the past i have somehow never succeeded in getting things to run there. Are 'lowpri' jobs billed against my cpu quote too, I wonder? If so, there is a risk of fruitlessly burning cpu hours: we lack a functional checkpointing regime, hence any job that does not get to complete (on the node where it started) will be wasted effort.

TitanPackaging (last edited 2011-10-08 21:12:13 by localhost)

(The DELPH-IN infrastructure is hosted at the University of Oslo)