Section: New Results

Batch Scheduling

Despite the impressive growth and size of super-computers, the computational power they provide still cannot match the demand. Efficient and fair resource allocation is a critical task. Super-computers use Resource and Job Management Systems to schedule applications, which is generally done by relying on generic index policies such as First Come First Served and Shortest Processing time First in combination with Backfilling strategies. Unfortunately, such generic policies often fail to exploit specific characteristics of real workloads.

In [36], we focus on improving the performance of online schedulers by studying mixed policies, which are created by combining multiple job characteristics in a weighted linear expression, as opposed to classical pure policies which use only a single characteristic. This larger class of scheduling policies aims at providing more flexibility and adaptability. We use space coverage and black-box optimization techniques to explore this new space of mixed policies and we study how can they adapt to the changes in the workload. We perform an extensive experimental campaign through which we show that (1) the best pure policy is far from optimal and that (2) using a carefully tuned mixed policy would allow to significantly improve the performance of the system. (3) We also provide empirical evidence that there is no one size fits all policy, by showing that the rapid workload evolution seems to prevent classical online learning algorithms from being effective.

A careful investigation of why such mixed strategy fail to globally exploit weekly workload features reveal that some users sometimes provide widely inaccurate information, which dramatically fools the batch scheduling heuristic. Indeed, users typically provide a loose upper bound estimate for job execution times that are hardly useful. Previous studies attempted to improve these estimates using regression techniques. Although these attempts provide reasonable predictions, they require a long period of training data. Furthermore, aiming for perfect prediction may be of limited use for scheduling purposes. In [50], we propose a simpler approach by classifying jobs as small or large and prioritizing the execution of small jobs over large ones. Indeed, small jobs are the most impacted by queuing delays but they typically represent a light load and incur a small burden on the other jobs. The classifier operates online and learns by using data collected over the previous weeks, facilitating its deployment and enabling fast adaptations to changes in workload characteristics. We evaluate our approach using four scheduling policies on six HPC platform workload traces. We show that: (i) incorporating such classification significantly reduces the average bounded slowdown of jobs in all scenarios, and (ii) the obtained improvements are comparable, in most scenarios, to the ideal hypothetical situation where the scheduler would know the exact running time of jobs in advance.