[Mpi3-ft] Defining the state of MPI after an error

Graham, Richard L. rlgraham at ornl.gov
Wed Sep 22 14:50:09 CDT 2010

In addition, if there will be returned something other than CANNOT_CONTINUE there needs to be a mechanism to return information beyond just a single integer.  In many situations this is sufficient, but not in all.  As a simple example, in earlier discussions there was consideration to what would happen if a wild card source receive was posted, and a member of the communicator failed.  We had agreed that would put the communicator into an error state, with the library not being able to guess the app's intent, which would require an error to be returned.  At this stage, the app may need to know which rank failed, as it can't infer this from the error code who failed, and would need a mechanism to get this information.


On 9/22/10 3:36 PM, "Bronevetsky, Greg" <bronevetsky1 at llnl.gov> wrote:

One candidate for CANNOT_CONTINUE would be a data corruption in MPI memory or some data structure inconsistency due to a bug. This could have zero effect or could corrupt application results or system state. It would be exceedingly difficult for MPI to do anything meaningful here and continued operation is potentially very dangerous. As such, I would consider this to be a bad enough error to return CANNOT_CONTINUE.

I think the point of this proposal is not that CANNOT_CONTINUE is going to be a common error but to lay the groundwork for a more useful error reporting scheme. Today we're quite sure that CANNOT_CONTINUE will be the worst thing that an MPI implementation will want to return but we're not really sure about what the other errors will look like. For example, RANK_DEAD and LINK_DEAD sound like plausible error messages but we won't know until individual implementations have had a chance to experiment them. This proposal allows such experimentation to happen within the same basic error reporting framework.

Having said that, I'm not completely convinced that we need to include this in the spec yet or whether this can be more like a community agreement until we understand the problem better.

Greg Bronevetsky
Lawrence Livermore National Lab
(925) 424-5756
bronevetsky at llnl.gov

From: mpi3-ft-bounces at lists.mpi-forum.org [mailto:mpi3-ft-bounces at lists.mpi-forum.org] On Behalf Of Richard Treumann
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 11:17 AM
To: MPI 3.0 Fault Tolerance and Dynamic Process Control working Group
Subject: Re: [Mpi3-ft] Defining the state of MPI after an error


I can imagine a few errors that I know will be harmless to MPI state. I can make sure nobody can do any harm by passing an invalid communicator to MPI_COMM_SIZE.

I cannot think of a detectable error that would return and leave that thread of that process so totally broken that nothing in MPI will work from then on. In a collective, there may be processes in which the thread that called the CC never returns and that tread of the process is no longer usable because it is hung.  Other threads using other communicators in the process with a hung thread may work perfectly.

Except for the very few cases where I know there was no damage (like a bad comm on MPI_COMM_SIZE) the situation, 99.99% of the time, will be that everything still works but sometimes the outcome is a surprise to the user.  Say you  do:

1 MPI_Barrier (on world)
2 MPI_Barrier (on world):
3 other stuff
4 MPI_Barrier (on world)
5 if (my rank is even)
6     sendrecv(with odd neighbor)
7  else
8    sendrecv(with even neighbor)

but get back an error at  all even numbered ranks from the line 1 barrier call. The line 2 MPI_Barrier may still "work" but the line 2 barrier at even numbered ranks will match the line 1 barrier at odd ranks. Even ranks will begin "other stuff" and odd ranks will sit in the line 2 barrier until even ranks  finish "other stuff" and reach the line 4 barrier. The odd ranks now get through their line 2 barrier and begin other stuff.

If "other stuff" involves communication among  the even ranks and communication among the odd ranks. that will work too. The even ranks will all send/recv among themselves later the odd ranks will all send/recv among themselves.

The even ranks will reach line 6 and hang there because the odd tasks are still stuck at line 4.

In this entire example, libmpi has continued working "correctly" but the behavior you get from correct behavior is not what you planned.

The situation of MPI state being totally trashed by an error that returns a return code barely exists.  The case where it is subtly discombobulated is the norm.

Dick Treumann  -  MPI Team
IBM Systems & Technology Group
Dept X2ZA / MS P963 -- 2455 South Road -- Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Tele (845) 433-7846         Fax (845) 433-8363

  From:   Darius Buntinas <buntinas at mcs.anl.gov>
  To:   "MPI 3.0 Fault Tolerance and Dynamic Process Control working Group" <mpi3-ft at lists.mpi-forum.org>
  Date:   09/22/2010 12:24 PM
  Subject:   Re: [Mpi3-ft] Defining the state of MPI after an error
  Sent by:   mpi3-ft-bounces at lists.mpi-forum.org


OK, I (think I) see what you guys are saying, so maybe we should look at it this way.  The CANNOT_CONTINUE proposal should not define the operation of the MPI implementation after errors other than CANNOT_CONTINUE.  Instead, it defines that after the implementation gives a CANNOT_CONTINUE error, the app knows that the implementation is fatally wedged, and that the user should definately not expect correct operation after this.  I.e., we're not labeling other errors as "recoverable," we're just marking CANNOT_CONTINUE as "unrecoverable."

Note that an implementation can still be standard compliant even if it never returns a CANNOT_CONTINUE error even when it is fatally wedged (because operation after any other error is still undefined).

This just defines a way for the implementation to let the user know that it has given up.  So that if the implementation provides best-effort functionality after an error, and the user has "read the disclaimer" and is comfortable with proceeding, this is a way to differentiate between an error as a result of a failure that hosed everything, and one that may allow things to continue.

We still would like to define what happens to a bcast after a process in the communicator fails.  But we leave that for future proposals.

Does this make sense?

On Sep 22, 2010, at 8:43 AM, Terry Dontje wrote:

> Richard Treumann wrote:
>> This proposal is not a minor change.
>> Please do not make this hole in the standard and assume you can later add language to standardize everything that comes through the hole.
>> If the standard is to introduce the notion of a recoverable error it must be as part of a full description of what "recovery" means.
>> I think is is dangerous and ultimately useless to have implementors mark a failure as "recoverable" when the post error state of the distributed MPI has gone from "fully standards compliant" to "mostly standards compliant, read my user doc read my legal disclaimer, cross your fingers".
>> See comment below for why I do not think the new hole is needed to allow people to do implementation specific recoverability.
>> There is not even anything to prevent on implementation from deciding to add a function MPXX_WHAT_STILL_WORKS(err_code, answer) and documenting 5 or 5000 enumerated values for "answer" ranging from NOTHING through TAKE_A_CHANCE_IF_YOU_LIKE to  EVERYTHING.
>> IBM would probably return TAKE_A_CHANCE_IF_YOU_LIKE because I cannot imagine how we would promise exactly what will work and what will not but in practice most things will still work as expected.
> I think I agree with Dick on the above.  Another way of putting the disagreement is that Josh's proposal is too general in that not all errorcodes can be completely marked as MPI state is broken or not.  When Sun implemented fault tolerant client/server we came up with a new error class that when returned gave the user the understanding that a condition occurred on a communicator that has rendered the communicator useless and one should clean it up before continuing on.  The point is there was a concrete understanding of the error and what could be done to recover.  As opposed to a general class that say's everything is borked or not which essential doesn't give you much because you'll end up eventually having to define a more specific class of error IMO.
> --td
>> Dick Treumann  -  MPI Team
>> IBM Systems & Technology Group
>> Dept X2ZA / MS P963 -- 2455 South Road -- Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
>> Tele (845) 433-7846         Fax (845) 433-8363
>> mpi3-ft-bounces at lists.mpi-forum.org wrote on 09/21/2010 04:54:08 PM:
>> > [image removed]
>> >
>> > Re: [Mpi3-ft] Defining the state of MPI after an error
>> >
>> > Bronis R. de Supinski
>> >
>> > to:
>> >
>> > MPI 3.0 Fault Tolerance and Dynamic Process Control working Group
>> >
>> > 09/21/2010 04:59 PM
>> >
>> > Sent by:
>> >
>> > mpi3-ft-bounces at lists.mpi-forum.org
>> >
>> > Please respond to "Bronis R. de Supinski", "MPI 3.0 Fault Tolerance
>> > and Dynamic Process Control working Group"
>> >
>> >
>> > Dick:
>> >
>> > Re:
>> > > The current MPI standard does not say the MPI implementation is totally
>> > > broken once there is an error.  Saying MPI state is undefined after an
>> > > error simply says that the detailed semantic of the MPI standard can no
>> > > longer be promised. In other words, after an error you leave behind the
>> > > security of a portable standard semantic.  You are operating at your own
>> > > risk. You do not need to read more than that into it.
>> >
>> > Perhaps my problem with this position is that I come from the
>> > background of language definitions for compilers. When you
>> > read "undefined" in the OpenMP specification then you are
>> > being told that things are broken and the implementation does
>> > need to do anything or even tell you what they actually do (and
>> > I believe the same is true for the C and C++ standards). An
>> > alternative is "implementation defined", which requires the
>> > implementer to document what they actually do. Without that,
>> > you cannot even rely on actions with a specific implementation
>> > (unless you believe "My tests so far have not failed so I am OK").
>> When a standard says behavior is "undefined" in some situation, it cannot mean behavior is "broken". It cannot mean the implementor is prohibited from making it still work. It cannot mean the implementor is prohibited from making certain things work and documenting them. Any statement like this in a standard would be definition of behavior and the behavior would no longer be "undefined".
>> The only thing a standard can logically mean by "undefined" is that the STANDARD no longer mandates the definition.
>> Bronis says:
>> >
>> > I strongly feel "undefined" should be reserved for situations that
>> > mean "your program is irrevocably broken and the implementer does
>> > not need to worry about what happens to it after encountering them."
>> I would say this as:
>> I strongly feel "undefined" should be reserved for situations that mean "The standard no longer guarantees your program is not irrevocably broken. The implementer is not required by the standard to worry about what happens to it after encountering them. An Implementation is free to provide any "better" behavior that may be of value but users cannot assume another implementation provides similar behavior so cannot assume standards defined portability."
>> I do not see how the use if the word "undefined" in a standard can be interpreted as a prohibition of any behavior an implementation might offer.
>> _______________________________________________
>> mpi3-ft mailing list
>> mpi3-ft at lists.mpi-forum.org
>> http://BLOCKEDlists.mpi-forum.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/mpi3-ft <http://BLOCKEDlists.mpi-forum.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/mpi3-ft>
> --
> <Mail Attachment.gif>
> Terry D. Dontje | Principal Software Engineer
> Developer Tools Engineering | +1.781.442.2631
> Oracle - Performance Technologies
> 95 Network Drive, Burlington, MA 01803
> Email terry.dontje at oracle.com
> _______________________________________________
> mpi3-ft mailing list
> mpi3-ft at lists.mpi-forum.org
> http://BLOCKEDlists.mpi-forum.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/mpi3-ft <http://BLOCKEDlists.mpi-forum.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/mpi3-ft>

mpi3-ft mailing list
mpi3-ft at lists.mpi-forum.org
http://BLOCKEDlists.mpi-forum.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/mpi3-ft <http://BLOCKEDlists.mpi-forum.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/mpi3-ft>

More information about the mpiwg-ft mailing list