March 6 – 11 , 2022, Dagstuhl Seminar 22101

Tensor Computations: Applications and Optimization


Paolo Bientinesi (University of Umeå, SE)
David Ham (Imperial College London, GB)
Furong Huang (University of Maryland – College Park, US)
Paul H. J. Kelly (Imperial College London, GB)
P. (Saday) Sadayappan (University of Utah – Salt Lake City, US)

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Dagstuhl Report, Volume 12, Issue 3 Dagstuhl Report
Aims & Scope
List of Participants
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Linear relationships between quantities are one of the most fundamental and pervasive phenomena in mathematics, science and computing. While matrices encode linear relationships between exactly two quantities, tensors are an abstraction representing linear relationships between multiple variables. Tensor computations therefore provide an abstract language for computations that span an enormous range of application domains, including machine learning, quantum information systems, simulations based on solving partial differential equations, computational chemistry and beyond. The tensor abstraction enriches our understanding of the structure of computations, and exposes common challenges and solutions that cut across different research communities.

While the mathematics of tensors is well-developed and extensively applied across all of these applications and beyond, there is far less commonality in the software abstractions and tools deployed to execute tensor computations. This is in stark contrast to matrix computations, where common abstractions and stable interfaces have led to widely used tools that bring high performance to across diverse application domains.

This Seminar explored this challenge, and made significant progress towards establishing foundations for common implementations -- embodying the substantial body of knowledge on high-performance tensor computation strategies in common software libraries and domain-specific program generation tools.

The Seminar began with five tutorial lectures, offered by the organisers in partnership with selected leading figures in some of the relevant communities. We began by mapping some of the diverse terminology. We then provided tutorials exposing the quantitative and qualitative diversity in how different communities use tensor computations -- aiming to build a common understanding of key concepts, notations, and building blocks. We focused on the following application areas:

  1. Quantum physics and chemistry
  2. Mesh-based discretisations for solution of partial differential equations
  3. Machine learning.

The final tutorial reviewed the challenge of establishing unifying software tools, highlighting the enormous body of work that has been done within application areas.

The second phase of the Seminar consisted of more detailed presentations from the participants. These included motivating applications, but focusing on the fundamental computational workloads, methods, and performance challenges. Building on this, we also had contributions focused on implementation -- low-level performance considerations, algorithmic proposals, compiler algorithms and compiler infrastructure.

In the third phase of the Seminar, we separated into three teams. One explored benchmarking and datasets, another made substantial progress on proof-of-concept implementation work to connecting the high-level Tensorly library for tensor decompositions in machine learning to a lower-level tensor-vector products -- achieving considerable performance advantage. Finally there was also a major and continuing effort to define a common domain-specific language and compiler representation for tensor contractions that supports both high-level optimisations and the use of high-performance low-level libraries.

This 2021 seminar built on progress made at an earlier seminar with the same title, in March 2020 -- which was very heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This seminar was also affected, to a lesser extent -- with a reduced number of on-site participants, partly compensated by very useful engagement with researchers joining online, albeit from distant timezones.

This seminar benefited from broader engagement with application domains -- partly as a result of the work that was done on tutorials -- which we hope to publish in due course. It also benefited from deeper engagement with developers of high-performance building blocks. Finally, we initiated a new and continuing effort to define a common language and a common intermediate language for code generation tools.

Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 4.0
  Paolo Bientinesi, David Ham, Furong Huang, Paul H. J. Kelly, and P. (Saday) Sadayappan

Related Dagstuhl Seminar


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