Accelerating Simulation-based Inference with Emerging AI Hardware

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in Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Rebooting Computing (ICRC)



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Developing models of natural phenomena by capturing their underlying complex interactions is a core tenet of various scientific disciplines. These models are useful as simulators and can help in understanding the natural processes being studied. One key challenge in this pursuit has been to enable statistical inference over these models, which would allow these simulation-based models to learn from real-world observations. Recent efforts, such as Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC), show promise in performing a new kind of inference to leverage these models. While the scope of applicability of these inference algorithms is limited by the capabilities of contemporary computational hardware, they show potential of being greatly parallelized. In this work, we explore hardware accelerated simulation-based inference over probabilistic models, by combining massively parallelized ABC inference algorithm with the cutting-edge AI chip solutions that are uniquely suited for this purpose. As a proof-of-concept, we demonstrate inference over a probabilistic epidemiology model used to predict the spread of COVID-19. Two hardware acceleration platforms are compared - the Tesla V100 GPU and the Graphcore Mark1 IPU. Our results show that while both of these platforms outperform multi-core CPUs, the Mk1 IPUs are 7.5x faster than the Tesla V100 GPUs for this workload.