KDD Papers

Bolt: Accelerated Data Mining with Fast Vector Compression

Davis Blalock (MIT);John Guttag (MIT)


Vectors of data are at the heart of machine learning and data mining. Recently, vector quantization methods have shown great promise in reducing both the time and space costs of operating on vectors. We introduce a vector quantization algorithm that can compress vectors up to 12x faster than existing techniques while also accelerating approximate vector operations such as distance and dot product computations by over 10x. Because it can encode over two megabytes of vectors per millisecond (2 GB/s), it makes vector quantization cheap enough to employ in many more circumstances. As an example, using our technique to compute approximate dot products in a nested loop can multiply matrices faster than a state-of-the-art BLAS implementation, even when our algorithm must first compress the matrices.

In addition to showing the above speedups, we show experimentally that our approach can be used to accelerate nearest neighbor search and maximum inner product search by up to 140x compared to floating point operations and 10x compared to other vector quantization methods. Our approximate Euclidean distance and dot product computations are not only faster than those of related algorithms with slower encodings, but also faster than Hamming distance computations, which have direct hardware support on the tested platforms. We also assess the errors of our algorithm’s approximate distances and dot products, and find that it is competitive with existing, slower vector quantization algorithms.