This document covers the different scheduling policies supported by Determined. In the first section below, we describe the native scheduling capabilities supported by Determined. In the second section, we describe how Determined schedules tasks when running on Kubernetes.

Native Scheduler

Administrators can configure the desired scheduler in Master Configuration. It is also possible to configure different scheduling behavior for different resource pools.

Once the scheduling policy has been defined for the current master and/or resource pool, the scheduling behavior of an individual task is influenced by several task configuration values:

  • For the fair-share scheduler, resources.weight lets users set the resource demand of a task relative to other tasks.

  • For the priority scheduler, resources.priority lets users assign a priority order to tasks.

  • Regardless of the scheduler, searcher.max_concurrent_trials lets users cap the number of slots that an adaptive_asha hyperparameter search experiment will request at any given time.


Zero-slot tasks (e.g., CPU-only notebooks, tensorboards) are scheduled independently of tasks that require slots (e.g., experiments, GPU notebooks). The fair-share scheduler schedules zero-slot tasks on a FIFO basis. The priority scheduler schedules zero-slot tasks based on priority.


The master allocates cluster resources (slots) among the active experiments using a weighted fair-share scheduling policy. Slots are divided among the active experiments according to the demand (number of desired concurrent tasks) of each experiment. For instance, in an eight-GPU cluster running two experiments with demands of ten and thirty, the scheduler assigns two slots and six slots respectively. As new experiments become active or the resource demand of an active experiment changes, the scheduler will adjust how slots are allocated to experiments as appropriate.

The behavior of the fair-share scheduler can be modified by changing the weight of a workload. A workload’s demand for slots is multiplied by the workload’s weight for scheduling purposes; hence, a workload with a higher weight will be assigned proportionally more resources than a workload with lower weight. The default weight is 1. For example, in the scenario above, if the weight of the first experiment is set to 3 and the weight of the second experiment is set to 1, each experiment will be assigned four slots.


The master allocates cluster resources (slots) to active tasks based on their priority. High-priority tasks are preferred to low-priority tasks. Low-priority tasks will be preempted to make space for pending high-priority tasks if possible. Tasks of equal priority are scheduled in the order in which they were created.

By default, the priority scheduler does not use preemption. If preemption is enabled (Master Configuration), when a higher priority task is pending and cannot be scheduled because no idle resources are available, the scheduler will attempt to schedule it by preempting lower priority tasks, starting with the task with the lowest priority. If there are no tasks to preempt, lower priority tasks might be backfilled on the idle resources. When a trial is preempted, its state is checkpointed so that the progress of the trial is not lost. Enabling preemption ensures that cluster resources can be reallocated to high priority tasks more promptly and backfilled to make the most use of the idle resources; however, preemption can also result in additional overhead due to checkpointing low priority tasks, which might be expensive for some models.


Notebooks, tensorboards, shells, and commands are not preemptible. These tasks will continue to occupy cluster resources until they complete or are terminated.

The priority of any task can be changed after it is created using one of the following commands:

det experiment set priority <ID> <priority>
det command set priority <ID> <priority>
det notebook set priority <ID> <priority>
det shell set priority <ID> <priority>
det tensorboard set priority <ID> <priority>

However, since only experiments are preemptible, changing the priority of any other kind of task after it is scheduled has no effect. (It can still be useful to change the priorities of such tasks before they are scheduled in order to affect when they ultimately start running.)

Here is an example of how the priority scheduler behaves with preemption enabled:

  1. User submits a priority 2 adaptive_asha experiment with max_concurrent_trials 20 and slots_per_trial 1. 8 trials run and utilize all 8 GPUs.

  2. User submits a priority 1 distributed training experiment with slots_per_trial 4. 4 ASHA trials are preempted so the new distributed training experiment can run. Note that if preemption was not enabled, the new experiment would not get scheduled until the ASHA experiment’s GPU demand becomes <= 4.

  3. User starts a priority 3 notebook with resources.slots 1. The notebook has a lower priority than the two active experiments, so it will run as soon as the two active experiments collectively need <= 7 GPUs.

  4. ASHA and the distributed training experiment both complete, and the notebook task with priority 3 will run.

  5. User submits a priority 1 distributed training experiment with slots_per_trial 8. Although this workload has a higher priority than the active notebook task, it cannot be scheduled because it requires 8 slots, notebooks are not preemptible, and therefore only 7 slots are available.

  6. User submits a priority 2 distributed training experiment with slots_per_trial 4. One trial will be scheduled to make use of the idle 7 slots.

  7. The notebook is killed. The priority 2 distributed training experiment is preempted. And then the priority 1 distributed training experiment starts running. Once that experiment is complete, distributed training experiment with priority 2 restarts.

The priority scheduler can be used with Determined’s Job Queue Management, which allows more insight into scheduling decisions.

Scheduling with Kubernetes

When using Determined on Kubernetes, Determined workloads such as experiments, notebooks, and shells are executed by launching Kubernetes pods. Hence, the scheduling behavior that applies to those workloads depends on how the Kubernetes scheduler has been configured.

Gang Scheduling on Kubernetes

By default, the Kubernetes scheduler does not perform gang scheduling or support preemption of pods. While it does take pod priority into account, it greedily schedules pods without consideration for the job each pod belongs to. This can result in problematic behavior for deep learning workloads, particularly for distributed training jobs that use many GPUs. A distributed training job that uses multiple pods requires all pods to be scheduled and running in order to make progress. Because Kubernetes does not support gang scheduling by default, cluster deadlocks can arise. For example, suppose that two experiments are launched simultaneously that each require 16 GPUs on a cluster with only 16 GPUs. It is possible that Kubernetes will assign some GPUs to one experiment and some GPUs to the other. Because neither experiment will receive the resources it needs to begin executing, the system will wait indefinitely.

One way Determined addresses these problems is through the use of the lightweight coscheduling plugin, which extends the Kubernetes scheduler to support priority-based gang scheduling. To implement gang scheduling, the coscheduling plugin will not schedule a pod unless there are enough available resources to also schedule the rest of the pods in the same job. To function, the plugin requires special labels to be set that specify the number of nodes that each job needs for execution. Determined automatically calculates and sets these labels for GPU experiments that it launches.

The coscheduling plugin is in beta and is therefore not enabled by default. To enable it, edit values.yaml in the Determined Helm chart to set the defaultScheduler field to coscheduler.

There are several limitations to the coscheduling plugin to be aware of:

  1. The coscheduling plugin does not work with Kubernetes’ cluster autoscaling feature. Static node pools must be used to achieve gang scheduling

  2. The plugin does not support preemption. For example, if the cluster is full of low priority jobs and a new high priority job is submitted, the high priority job will not be scheduled until one of the low priority jobs finishes.

  3. Determined’s capability to automatically set pod labels is restricted to GPU experiments. Determined does not currently set labels for CPU experiments or user commands.

  4. When scheduling experiments that utilize the entire cluster, the plugin may take several minutes to schedule the next job. Because the coscheduler only approves of jobs when all of its pods are available, it may repeatedly reject partially-ready jobs, causing them to wait further.

To enable gang scheduling with commands or CPU experiments, enable the coscheduler in values.yaml and modify the experiment config to contain the following:

   <unique task name>
   <# of GPUs required>
         schedulerName: coscheduler

You can also use schedulerName: default-scheduler to use the default Kubernetes scheduler.

Additionally, please note that when running Determined on Kubernetes, a higher priority value means a higher priority (e.g. a priority 50 task will run before a priority 40 task).

Priority Scheduling with Preemption on Kubernetes

Determined also makes available a priority scheduler that extends the Kubernetes scheduler to support preemption with backfilling. This plugin will preempt existing pods if higher priority pods are submitted. If there is still space in the cluster, backfilling will attempt to fill the nodes by scheduling lower priority jobs. Additionally, if there are leftover slots on partially-filled nodes, the scheduler will attempt to assign single-slot tasks until the space is filled. This packing behavior only occurs with single-slot tasks.

This plugin is also in beta and is not enabled by default. To enable it, edit values.yaml in the Determined Helm chart to set the defaultScheduler field to preemption. Autoscaling is not supported and Determined can only automatically set labels for GPU experiments.

Determined provides a default priority class, determined-medium-priority that has a priority of 50 and is used for all tasks. If users want to set a different priority level for an experiment, they may either specify a priority in the resources field of the experiment config or create a priorityClass and specify it in the pod_spec of the config. If both are specified, the specified priorityClass will take precedence over the priority field. In Kubernetes, a higher priority value means a higher priority (e.g. a priority 50 task will run before a priority 40 task).

Additionally, if using a cluster with tainted nodes or labels, users must specify the tolerations or node selectors in the pod_spec. We recommend using both tolerations and node selectors to better constrain where your experiments can run, especially on clusters that contain multiple GPU types.

Below is an example that illustrates how to set priorities, tolerations, and node selectors.

   priority: 42 # priorityClass, if set, takes precedence over this value
      apiVersion: v1
      kind: Pod
         priorityClassName: determined-medium-priority # don't set if using priority value
            key: value
         -  key: "key1"
            operator: "Equal"
            value: "value"
            effect: "NoSchedule"

The Kubernetes priority scheduler can be used with Determined’s Job Queue Management feature, which allows more insight into scheduling decisions.