Scheduler Internals

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This information is outdated, and until Dagger's internal scheduling APIs stabilize, it may become less and less accurate. Always read the source to understand what actually happens in Sch!

The scheduler is called Dagger.Sch. It contains a single internal instance of type ComputeState, which maintains all necessary state to represent the set of waiting, ready, and completed (or "finished") graph nodes, cached Chunks, and maps of interdependencies between nodes. It uses Julia's task infrastructure to asynchronously send work requests to remote compute processes, and uses a Julia Channel as an inbound queue for completed work. There is an outer loop which drives the scheduler, which continues executing until all nodes in the graph have completed executing and the final result of the graph is ready to be returned to the user. This outer loop continuously performs two main operations: the first is to launch the execution of nodes which have become "ready" to execute; the second is to "finish" nodes which have been completed.

Scheduler Initialization

At the very beginning of a scheduler's lifecycle, the ComputeState is elaborated based on the computed sets of dependencies between nodes, and all nodes are placed in a "waiting" state. If any of the nodes are found to only have inputs which are not Thunks, then they are moved from "waiting" to "ready". The set of available "workers" (the set of available compute processes located throughout the cluster) is recorded, of size Nworkers.

Scheduler Outer Loop

At each outer loop iteration, up to Nworkers processes that are currently in the "ready" state will be moved into the "running" state, and asynchronously sent (along with input arguments) to one of the Nworkers processes for execution. Subsequently, if any nodes exist in the inbound queue (i.e. the nodes have completed execution and their result is stored on the process that executed the node), then the most recently-queued node is removed from the queue, "finished", and placed in the "finished" state.

Node Execution

Executing a node (here called Ne) in the "ready" state comprises two tasks. The first task is to identify which node in the set of "ready" nodes will be Ne (the node to execute). This choice is based on a concept known as "affinity", which is a cost-based metric used to evaluate the suitability of executing a given node on a given process. The metric is based primarily on the location of the input arguments to the node, as well as the arguments computed size in bytes. A fixed amount of affinity is added for each argument when the process in question houses that argument. Affinity is then added based on some base affinity value multiplied by the argument's size in bytes. The total affinities for each node are then used to pick the most optimal node to execute (typically, the one with the highest affinity).

The second task is to prepare and send the node to a process for execution. If the node has been executed in the past (due to it being an argument to multiple other nodes), then the node is finished, and its result is pulled from the cache. If the node has not yet been executed, it is first checked if it is a "meta" node. A "meta" node is explicitly designated as such by the user or library, and will execute directly on its inputs as chunks (the data contained in the chunks are not immediately retrieved from the processors they reside on). Such a node will be executed directly within the scheduler, under the assumption that such a node is not expensive to execute. If the node is not a "meta" node, the executing worker process chooses (in round-robin fashion) a suitable processor to execute to execute the node on, based on the node's function, the input argument types, and user-defined rules for processor selection. The input arguments are then asynchronously transferred (via processor move operation) to the selected processor, and the appropriate call to the processor is made with the function and input arguments. Once execution completes and a result is obtained, it is wrapped as a Chunk, and the Chunk's handle is returned to the scheduler's inbound queue for node finishing.

Node Finishing

"Finishing" a node (here called Nf) performs three main tasks. The first task is to find all of the downstream "children" nodes of Nf (the set of nodes which use Nf's result as one of their input arguments) that have had all of their input arguments computed and are in the "waiting" state, and move them into the "ready" state. The second task is to check all of the inputs to Nf to determine if any of them no longer have children nodes which have not been finished; if such inputs match this pattern, their cached result may be freed by the scheduler to minimize data usage. The third task is to mark Nf as "finished", and also to indicate to the scheduler whether another node has become "ready" to execute.