Configuring and setting up resolver in a cluster

In the upcoming sections one can find information needed when configuring a cluster deployment that resolver runs in.

Adviser provides hyperparameters that can be tweaked to gain more performance or obtain better results when recommending a software stack. The upcoming sections act as a reference guide on how to act in different scenarios when certain issues are spotted in the cluster or if you wish to fine-tune resolver.


As adviser shares core components with Dependency Monkey, most of the details stated below also apply for Dependency Monkey as well as for resolver (adviser).

Pre-requisities to run adviser

To run adviser code, you need CPython interpreter in version 3.6 or above. The implementation uses native extensions (fext) to optimize some of the operations.

The version requirement for CPython interpreter enforces the built-in type dict to be ordered. This is an implementation detail in CPython 3.6 and language feature onwards, but the code of adviser relies on this feature (especially its core resolver algorithm).

The adviser code was tested also on CPython 3.7 and CPython 3.8.

Allocating CPU time

As resolver resolves multiple software stacks per run depending on the recommendation type, it requires a stop condition. The implementation has two main stop conditions:

  1. No more paths to be explored during the resolution

  2. Allocated CPU time for resolution was exceeded

Resolver responds to SIGINT signal that is handled during the main resolution and pipeline run to implement the second scenario. If a SIGINT is captured, adviser gracefully stops the current pipeline run with resolution and gathers results obtained until that point.

This behavior can be naturally used with Kubernetes/OpenShift liveness probes. See file used in deployments.

Memory management

To avoid exploding memory consumption, adviser was designed with few features in mind.

Adviser can do a fork from its main process and perform memory expensive operations in a sub-process configured and triggered from the main process. This behavior is turned off by default to simplify development and debugging when running adviser locally. To enable forking set THOTH_ADVISER_FORK=1. When running adviser in the cluster, the OOM killer will kill the memory expensive sub-process leaving the main process untouched. The main process has a capability of detecting the OOM kill of the sub-process and construct corresponding report.

Memory optimizer

Adviser’s implementation has a built-in memory optimizer that is run to make sure memory limits are respected. The optimizer is run periodically during the resolution and frees some of the partially resolved states from adviser’s beam. This makes sure the memory consumption is reduced and adviser can continue to browse some of the resolution paths, possibly leading to a solution (mind the resolver implementation is stochastic). The memory optimizer can be configured with the following environment variables:

  • THOTH_ADVISER_MEM_OPTIMIZER_LIMIT - memory limit configured (in kilobytes)

  • THOTH_ADVISER_MEM_OPTIMIZER_ITERATION - number of iterations stating how often the memory optimizer should be run

  • THOTH_ADVISER_MEM_OPTIMIZER_DROP_COUNT - number of partially resolved states to be freed in a round

Note that adviser can suddenly do a memory consumption bump when it is aggregating results as some pipeline units are called after the actual resolution process (wraps). That’s why it might be a good idea to keep some memory for the process to aggregate resolutions for users - do not match the memory optimizer limit with OpenShift/Kubernetes memory limits.

Tweaking limit

This parameter limits number of stacks that are produced and scored per adviser run. In other words, it limits number of iterations needed to compute pipeline products produced by the adviser pipeline.

Tweaking count

Adviser’s count parameter specifies how many stacks should be available for the output. Internally, adviser keeps count top rated candidates to report once the adviser finishes. It’s usually a good idea to keep this number set to 1 for deployments. Numbers different than count could be considered when experimenting with adviser or developing it. Naturally, this number cannot be bigger than limit.

When obtaining latest stack, this number can be set to 1 which will cause adviser to immidiatelly terminate once it finds the first latest stack.

Setting seed

To make sure multiple adviser runs result in the same stack, it is a good idea to set adviser’s seed to the same value across mutliple adviser runs in a deployment. Note the resolution is stochastic (this also depends on predictor used).

Also note the adviser runs depend on results obtained from Thoth’s knowledge graph. If some relevant parts of the knowledge used during resolution change, different results might be produced by adviser even if the seed is set to a constant value across multiple adviser runs.

Beam and it’s width

One of the core data structures keeping resolver’s internal states is beam (see pipeline and predictor docs for more info). Beam width is the maximum number of partially resolved states stored at the same time and can be configured using a hyperparameter during deployment. There are few pros and cons for large and small width numbers. The optimal beam width depends on the stack size, CPU time allocated and memory available per adviser run in a deployment.

If the beam width is set to a large number, it results in higher overhead needed for maintaining internal data structure per resolver iteration/round (see fext, termial-random). This overhead grows linearly with beam width. Also, memory consumption is increased and more CPU time is spent on maintaining the data structure and obtaining relevant resolver states.

If the beam width is set to a small number, it will result in a smaller state space explored (state space of all the possible stacks) possibly finding not good-enough software stack candidate to recommend. In the worst case it can result in no software stack resolved as candidates that would lead to a fully resolved software stack might be removed from the beam (pushed away by candidates that have higher score but do not lead to a fully resolved software stack given the version range specification of dependencies). There is also a risk described in A note on shared dependencies in a dependency graph.

An optimal number for the beam width can be obtained empirically (or additional analysis on top of adviser reports) based on software stacks that the system is resolving.


Tweaking predictor configuration also falls into deployment specific configuration. Predictor configuration is however specific per predictor implementation so reach out to respective predictor documentation.

See for example Predictor based on adaptive simulated annealing that provides temperature_coefficient that can be tweaked in deployment to obtain better results.

Development dependencies (dev flag)

In some cases, Thoth is recommending a software stack for application deployments. Development dependencies are usually not installed in such cases (if so, you should re-think how the application is structured). By eliminating development dependencies the dependency graph explored on Thoth’s side can be smaller which can narrow down the exploration to dependencies that go to the deployment. Naturally, this can have positive impact on the resulting software stack recommended (a better one can be found given the smaller state space explored). You can always force resolving also development dependencies by providing --dev flag to Thamos CLI.

Configuring solver rules

It is possible to restrict which packages should be analyzed by the system. This feature is called “solver rules” and such rules can be configured on management-api.

Solver rules create an interface to resolver’s data aggregation logic and can block analyses of certain packages. An example can be blocking old releases of setuptools that will never be used in more recent environments, thus they do not need to be solved and subsequently analyzed. An example of a solver rule added to management-api:

  "package_name": "setuptools",
  "version_specifier": "<20.0.0",
  "index_url": "",
  "description": "Do not solve old releases of setuptools"

The example above will block all the setuptools<20.0.0 coming from PyPI. If index_url is omitted, the rule is not specific to any package index. Similarly, if version_specifier is not provided, all versions match.

Adviser automatically removes packages that have rules assigned during the resolution process in case rules were added after the package was analyzed.