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From "Alan D. Cabrera" <>
Subject Re: [VOTE] Accept Apache Singa as incubator project
Date Wed, 11 Mar 2015 19:51:20 GMT


> On Mar 10, 2015, at 7:33 AM, Thejas Nair <> wrote:
> The Singa Incubator Proposal document has been updated based on
> feedback in the proposal thread.
> This vote is proposing the inclusion of Apache Singa as incubator project.
> The vote will run for at least 72 hours.
> [ ] +1 Accept Apache Singa into the Incubator
> [ ] +0 Don’t care.
> [ ] -1 Don’t accept Apache Singa into the Incubator because..
> Please vote !
> Here is my +1 .
> Link to version of proposal being voted on :
> The text is below
> ----------------------------------------------
> = Singa Incubator Proposal =
> == Abstract ==
> SINGA is a distributed deep learning platform.
> == Proposal ==
> SINGA is an efficient, scalable and easy-to-use distributed platform
> for training deep learning models, e.g., Deep Convolutional Neural Network and
> Deep Belief Network. It parallelizes the computation (i.e., training) onto a
> cluster of nodes by distributing the training data and model automatically to
> speed up the training. Built-in training algorithms like Back-Propagation and
> Contrastive Divergence are implemented based on common abstractions of deep
> learning models. Users can train their own deep learning models by simply
> customizing these abstractions like implementing the Mapper and
> Reducer in Hadoop.
> == Background ==
> Deep learning refers to a set of feature (or representation) learning models
> that consist of multiple (non-linear) layers, where different layers learn
> different levels of abstractions (representations) of the raw input data.
> Larger (in terms of model parameters) and deeper (in terms of number of layers)
> models have shown better performance, e.g., lower image classification error in
> Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge. However, a larger model requires more
> memory and larger training data to reduce over-fitting. Complex
> numeric operations
> make the training computation intensive. In practice, training large
> deep learning
> models takes weeks or months on a single node (even with GPU).
> == Rational ==
> Deep learning has gained a lot of attraction in both academia and
> industry due to
> its success in a wide range of areas such as computer vision and
> speech recognition.
> However, training of such models is computationally expensive,
> especially for large
> and deep models (e.g., with billions of parameters and more than 10
> layers). Both
> Google and Microsoft have developed distributed deep learning systems
> to make the
> training more efficient by distributing the computations within a
> cluster of nodes.
> However, these systems are closed source softwares. Our goal is to leverage the
> community of open source developers to make SINGA efficient, scalable
> and easy to
> use. SINGA is a full fledged distributed platform, that could benefit the
> community and also benefit from the community in their involvement in
> contributing
> to the further work in this area. We believe the nature of SINGA and our visions
> for the system fit naturally to Apache's philosophy and development framework.
> == Initial Goals ==
> We have developed a system for SINGA running on a commodity computer
> cluster. The initial goals include,
> * improving the system in terms of scalability and efficiency, e.g.,
> using Infiniband for network communication and multi-threading for one
> node computation. We would consider extending SINGA to GPU clusters
> later.
> * benchmarking with larger datasets (hundreds of millions of training
> instances) and models (billions of parameters).
> * adding more built-in deep learning models. Users can train the
> built-in models on their datasets directly.
> == Current Status ==
> === Meritocracy ===
> We would like to follow ASF meritocratic principles to encourage more developers
> to contribute in this project. We know that only active and excellent developers
> can make SINGA a successful project. The committer list and PMC will be updated
> based on developers' performance and commitment. We are also improving the
> documentation and code to help new developers get started quickly.
> === Community ===
> SINGA is currently being developed in the Database System Research Lab at the
> National University of Singapore (NUS) in collaboration with Zhejiang
> University in China.
> Our lab has extensive experience in building database related systems, including
> distributed systems. Six PhD students and research assistants (Jinyang Gao,
> Kaiping Zheng, Sheng Wang, Wei Wang, Zhaojing Luo and Zhongle Xie) , a research
> fellow (Anh Dinh) and three professors (Beng Chin Ooi, Gang Chen, Kian Lee Tan)
> have been working for a year on this project. We are open to recruiting more
> developers from diverse backgrounds.
> === Core Developers ===
> Beng Chin Ooi, Gang Chen and Kian Lee Tan are professors who have worked on
> distributed systems for more than 20 years. They have collaborated with the
> industry and have built various large scale systems. Anh Dinh's research is also
> on distributed systems, albeit with more focus on security aspects. Wei Wang's
> research is on deep learning problems including deep learning applications and
> large scale training. Sheng Wang and Jinyang are working on efficient indexing,
> querying of large scale data and machine learning. Kaiping, Zhaojing and Zhongle
> are new PhD students who jointed SINGA recently. They will work on this project
> for a longer time (next 4-5 years). While we share common research interests,
> each member also brings diverse expertise to the team.
> === Alignment ===
> ASF is already the home of many distributed platforms, e.g., Hadoop, Spark and
> Mahout, each of which targets a different application domain. SINGA, being a
> distributed platform for large-scale deep learning, focuses on another important
> domain for which there still lacks a robust and scalable open-source platform.
> The recent success of deep learning models especially for vision and speech
> recognition tasks has generated interests in both applying existing
> deep learning
> models and in developing new ones. Thus, an open-source platform for deep
> learning will be able to attract a large community of users and developers.
> SINGA is a complex system needing many iterations of design, implementation and
> testing. Apache's collaboration framework which encourages active contribution
> from developers will inevitably help improve the quality of the system, as shown
> in the success of Hadoop, Spark, etc.. Equally important is the community of
> users which helps identify real-life applications of deep learning, and helps
> to evaluate the system's performance and ease-of-use. We hope to
> leverage ASF for
> coordinating and promoting both communities, and in return benefit the
> communities
> with another useful tool.
> == Known Risks ==
> === Orphaned products ===
> Four core developers (Anh, Wei Wang, Jinyang and Sheng Wang) may leave the
> lab in two to four years time. It is possible that some of them may
> not have enough
> time to focus on this project after that. But, SINGA is part of our other bigger
> research projects on building an infrastructure for data intensive applications,
> which include health-care analytics and brain-inspired computing. Beng Chin and
> Kian Lee would continue working on it and getting more people
> involved. For example,
> three new developers (Kaiping, Zhaojing and Zhongle) joined us recently.
> Individual developers are welcome to make SINGA a diverse community
> that is robust and independent from any single developer.
> === Inexperience with Open Source ===
> All the developers are active users and followers of open source projects. Our
> research lab has a strong commitment to open source, and has released the source
> code of several systems under open source license as a way of contributing back
> to the open source community. But we do not have much real experience
> in open source
> projects with large and well organized communities like those in Apache. This is
> one reason we choose Apache which is experienced in open source
> project incubation.
> We hope to get the help from Apache (e.g., champion and mentors) to establish a
> healthy path for SINGA.
> === Homogenous Developers ===
> Although the current developers are researchers in the universities, they have
> different research interests and project experiences, as mentioned in
> the section
> that introduces the core developers. We know that a diverse community
> is helpful.
> Hence we are open to the idea of recruiting developers from other
> regions and organizations.
> === Reliance on Salaried Developers ===
> As a research project in the university, SINGA's current developing community
> consists of professors, PhD students, research assistants and
> postdoctoral fellows.
> They are driven by their interests to work on this project and have contributed
> actively since the start of the project. The research assistants and fellows are
> expected to leave when their contracts expire. However, they are keen
> to continue
> to work on the project voluntarily. Moreover, as a long term research
> project, new
> research assistants and fellows are likely to join the project.
> === A Excessive Fascination with the Apache Brand ===
> We choose Apache not for publicity. We have two purposes. First, we want to
> leverage Apache's reputation to recruit more developers to make a diverse
> community. Second, we hope that Apache can help us to establish a healthy path
> in developing SINGA. Beng Chin and Kian-Lee are established database and
> distributed system researchers, and together with the other contributors, they
> sincerely believe that there is a need for a widely accepted open source
> distributed deep learning platform. The field of deep learning is still at its
> infancy, and an open source platform will fuel the research in the
> area. Moreover,
> such a platform will enable researchers to develop new models  and algorithms,
> rather than spending time implementing a deep learning system from scratch.
> Furthermore, the need for scalability for such a platform is obvious.
> === Relationship with Other Apache Products ===
> Apache Mahout and Apache Spark's ML-LIB are general machine learning
> systems. Deep
> learning algorithm can thus be implemented on these two platforms as
> well. However, the there are differences in training efficiency,
> scalability and
> usability. Mahout and Spark ML-LIB follow models where their
> nodes run synchronously. This is the fundamental difference to Singa who
> follows the parameter server framework (like Google Brain and Microsoft
> Adam). Singa can run synchronously or asynchronously. The asynchronous mode
> is superior than the synchronous mode in terms of scalability. In
> addition, Singa has some optimizations towards deep learning models
> (e.g., model
> parallelism, data parallelism and hybrid-parallelism) which make Singa
> more efficient. We also provide ease of use programming model for deep
> learning algorithms.
> There are also plans for integration with Apache Hadoop's HDFS as
> storage, to  handle large training data.
> Specifically, we store the training data (e.g., images or raw features of
> images) in HDFS, then (pre-)fetch them online.
> We will also explore integration with Hadoop's Yarn and Apache Mesos
> to do resource management.
> == Documentation ==
> The project is hosted at
> Documentations can be found at the Github Wiki Page:
> We continue to refine and improve the documentation.
> == Initial Source ==
> We use Github to maintain our source code,
> == Source and Intellectual Property Submission Plan ==
> We plan to make our code base be under Apache License, Version 2.0.
> == External Dependencies ==
> * required by the core code base: glog, gflags, google protobuf,
> open-blas, mpich, armci-mpi.
> * required by data preparation and preprocessing: opencv, hdfs, python.
> == Cryptography ==
> Not Applicable
> == Required Resources ==
> === Mailing Lists ===
> Currently, we use google group for internal discussion. The mailing address is
> We will migrate the content to the apache mailing
> lists in the future.
> * singa-dev
> * singa-user
> * singa-commits
> * singa-private (for private discussion within PCM)
> === Git Repository ===
> We want to continue using git for version control. Hence, a git repo
> is required.
> === Issue Tracking ===
> JIRA Singa (SINGA)
> == Initial Committers ==
> * Beng Chin Ooi (ooibc
> * Kian Lee Tan (tankl
> * Gang Chen (cg
> * Wei Wang (wangwei
> * Dinh Tien Tuan Anh (dinhtta
> * Jinyang Gao (jinyang.gao
> * Sheng Wang (wangsh
> * Kaiping Zheng (kaiping
> * Zhaojing Luo (zhaojing
> * Zhongle Xie (zhongle
> == Affiliations ==
> * Beng Chin Ooi, National University of Singapore
> * Kian Lee Tan, National University of Singapore
> * Gang Chen, Zhejiang University
> * Wei Wang, National University of Singapore
> * Dinh Tien Tuan Anh, National University of Singapore
> * Jinyang Gao, National University of Singapore
> * Sheng Wang, National University of Singapore
> * Kaiping Zheng, National University of Singapore
> * Zhaojing Luo, National University of Singapore
> * Zhongle Xie, National University of Singapore
> == Sponsors ==
> ===  Champion ===
> Thejas Nair (thejas at
> === Nominated Mentors ===
> * Thejas Nair (thejas at
> * Alan Gates (gates at apache dot org)
> * Daniel Dai (daijy at apache dot org)
> * Ted Dunning (tdunning at apache dot org)
> === Sponsoring Entity ===
> We are requesting the Incubator to sponsor this project.
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