Hardware-accelerated Simulation-based Inference of Stochastic Epidemiology Models for COVID-19

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ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems (JETC)

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Epidemiology models are central in understanding and controlling large scale pandemics. Several epidemiology models require simulation-based inference such as Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) to fit their parameters to observations. ABC inference is highly amenable to efficient hardware acceleration. In this work, we develop parallel ABC inference of a stochastic epidemiology model for COVID-19. The statistical inference framework is implemented and compared on Intel Xeon CPU, NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPU and the Graphcore Mk1 IPU, and the results are discussed in the context of their computational architectures. Results show that GPUs are 4x and IPUs are 30x faster than Xeon CPUs. Extensive performance analysis indicates that the difference between IPU and GPU can be attributed to higher communication bandwidth, closeness of memory to compute, and higher compute power in the IPU. The proposed framework scales across 16 IPUs, with scaling overhead not exceeding 8% for the experiments performed. We present an example of our framework in practice, performing inference on the epidemiology model across three countries, and giving a brief overview of the results.