ElasticNotebook: Enabling Live Migration for Computational Notebooks

Zhaoheng Li, Pranav Gor, Rahul Prabhu, Hui Yu, Yuzhou Mao, Yongjoo Park (VLDB 2024)


Computational notebooks (e.g., Jupyter, Google Colab) are widely used for interactive data science and machine learning. In those frameworks, users can start a session, then execute cells (i.e., a set of statements) to create variables, train models, visualize results, etc. Unfortunately, existing notebook systems do not offer live migration: when a notebook launches on a new machine, it loses its state, preventing users from continuing their tasks from where they had left off. This is because, unlike DBMS, the sessions directly rely on underlying kernels (e.g., Python/R interpreters) without an additional data management layer. Existing techniques for preserving states, such as copying all variables or OS-level checkpointing, are unreliable (often fail), inefficient, and platform-dependent. Also, re-running code from scratch can be highly time-consuming. In this paper, we introduce a new notebook system, ElasticNotebook, that offers live migration via checkpointing/restoration using a novel mechanism that is reliable, efficient, and platform-independent. Specifically, by observing all cell executions via transparent, lightweight monitoring, ElasticNotebook can find a reliable and efficient way (i.e., replication plan) for reconstructing the original session state, considering variable-cell dependencies, observed runtime, variable sizes, etc. To this end, our new graph-based optimization problem finds how to reconstruct all variables (efficiently) from a subset of variables that can be transferred across machines. We show that ElasticNotebook reduces end-to-end migration and restoration times by 85%-98% and 94%-99%, respectively, on a variety (i.e., Kaggle, JWST, and Tutorial) of notebooks with negligible runtime and memory overheads of <2.5% and <10%.