The previous sections uncovered the inner workings of the KeOps library. After pages and pages of technical derivations, users can now reap the reward of our year-long investment in low-level software engineering through the user-friendly pykeops.numpy.LazyTensor or pykeops.torch.LazyTensor wrappers.

History of the project

Our starting point: Computational Anatomy. Back in 2017, we started working on the KeOps library to give to our esteemed colleagues of the (medical) shape analysis community an easy access to the CUDA routines of the fShapes toolkit – a Matlab toolbox that relies extensively on Gaussian kernel products. This initial target was reached pretty quickly: today, the reference Deformetrica software – maintained by the Aramis Inria team at the ICM Institute for Brain and Spinal Cord – is fully reliant on the PyTorch+KeOps framework. Most of our collaborators use one of the KeOps bindings to implement their shape processing pipelines.

As discussed in one of our tutorials, new “LDDMM” codebases for statistical shape modelling are ten times slimmer (and easier to maintain!) than they were just three years ago: graduate students can now get started in days instead of months, and we expect to witness many progresses in the field as research teams get relieved from the burden of low-level C++ development. As far as our specialized community of mathematicians is concerned, with more than 1,000 downloads per month on the PyPi repository, KeOps is already a success.

Reaching a wider audience. In 2018-2019, after several interactions with colleagues in machine learning and optimal transport conferences, we quickly realized that our generic Map-Reduce engine could be used to solve problems that go way beyond neuro-anatomy. Provided that some effort was made to improve the general user experience, KeOps LazyTensors could be a game changer for engineers and researchers in many applied fields.

Today, after months of patient re-packaging and documentation, KeOps is a fully-fledged open source library (MIT License) whose development can be tracked on GitHub. The Python bindings are easy to install through the PyPi repository (pip install pykeops), with numerous examples available in our galleries.

Place of KeOps in the scientific ecosystem. The KeOps package has no claim to set the state-of-the-art in High Performance Calculus: when implemented properly, hand-written CUDA schemes will always outperform naive GPU loops, be it for (approximate) nearest neighbor search or B-spline interpolation.

However, as it combines a reasonable level of performance with the flexibility of a deep learning interface, KeOps can unlock research programs by significantly increasing the productivity of developers. Allowing our colleagues in computational anatomy to benefit from the “deep learning revolution” without having to focus exclusively on convolutional neural networks was the main ambition of this work; we now hope that this localized success can be replicated in other fields.

Supported reductions and formulas

As discussed in our introductory tutorials, LazyTensors can be built from any valid NumPy array or PyTorch tensor and support a wide range of mathematical operations. Generic, broadcasted computations define valid programs:

import torch
from pykeops.torch import LazyTensor

A, B, M, N, D = 7, 3, 100000, 200000, 10
x_i = LazyTensor( torch.randn(A, B, M, 1, D) )  # "i"-variable
l_i = LazyTensor( torch.randn(1, 1, M, 1, D) )  # "i"-variable
y_j = LazyTensor( torch.randn(1, B, 1, N, D) )  # "j"-variable
s   = LazyTensor( torch.rand( A, 1, 1, 1, 1) )  # parameter

F_ij = (x_i ** 1.5 + y_j / l_i).cos()            # Algebraic expression
F_ij = F_ij - (x_i | y_j)                        # Scalar product
F_ij = F_ij + (x_i[:,:,:,:,2] * s.relu() * y_j)  # Indexing, ReLU activation

a_j = F_ij.sum(dim=2)  # a_j.shape = [7, 3, 200000, 10]

LazyTensors fully support automatic differentiation – up to arbitrary orders – as well as a decent collection of reduction operations. On top of the sum(), @ (matrix multiplication) and logsumexp() operators which have already been discussed in depth, users may rely on min(), argmin(), min_argmin(), max(), argmax(), max_argmax(), Kmin(K=...), argKmin(K=...) or min_argKmin(K=...) methods to implement their algorithms.

Linear solver. Interestingly, KeOps also provides support for the resolution of large “mathematical” linear systems – a critical operation in geology (Kriging), imaging (splines), statistics (Gaussian Process regression) and data sciences (kernel regression). Assuming that the LazyTensorK_xx” encodes a symmetric, positive definite matrix \(K_{xx}\), the solve() method:

a_i = K_xx.solve(b_i, alpha=alpha)

returns the solution:

\[\begin{aligned} a^{\star} = \operatorname*{argmin}_a \|\, (\alpha\operatorname{Id}+K_{xx})\,a \,-\,b\,\|^2_2 = (\alpha \operatorname{Id} + K_{xx})^{-1} b, \label{eq:pykeops_solver}\end{aligned}\]

of the linear system “\((\alpha \operatorname{Id}~+~ K_{xx})\,a = b\)”, computed with a conjugate gradient scheme.

Using KeOps as a backend for high-level libraries. Going further, as discussed in our gallery, LazyTensors can be neatly interfaced with the high-quality solvers of the Scipy and GPytorch libraries. Preliminary results with the maintainers of the latter already show remarkable improvements to the state-of-the-art: re-running the benchmarks of (Wang et al., 2019) with a new KeOps backend, exact Gaussian Process regressions that took 7 hours to train on a cluster of 8 top-drawer V100 GPUs (\(\texttt{3DRoad}\) dataset, \(\mathrm{N} = \texttt{278,319}\), \(\mathrm{D} = \texttt{3}\)) can now be performed in 15 minutes on a single gaming chip, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

Future works

Our gallery of tutorials showcases an eclectic collection of applications in machine learning, statistics, optimal transport theory and computational anatomy. We carry on working towards a closer integration with the Python scientific stack and will improve/implement R and Julia bindings in months to come. We also plan to implement boilerplate features such as row- and column-wise indexing, block-wise definition of LazyTensors and a full support of tensor variables. Additional low-level profiling should also help us to converge towards optimal runtimes.

By making our routines freely available to the general public, we hope to help the applied maths community to catch up with the state-of-the-art in computer science: in 2019, bruteforce quadratic algorithms should have no problem scaling up to millions of samples in minutes; clever approximation schemes are only needed if users intend to perform real-time analysis or scale to Gigabytes of data.

Our long-term goal: fast approximation schemes. Long-term, our main challenge will be to reconcile KeOps with the rich literature in numerical mathematics that focuses on fast approximation schemes for kernel dot products – which are often referred to as discrete convolutions in computational geometry or discrete integral operators in physics. Adapting ideas from the Nyström, Fast Multipole and Fast & Free Memory Methods to GPU chips, we hope to let users trade time for accuracy with a simple K.tol = 1e-3 interface by 2020.