10,16,2021

News Blog Paper China
Flower: A Friendly Federated Learning Research Framework2020-07-28   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated Learning (FL) has emerged as a promising technique for edge devices to collaboratively learn a shared prediction model, while keeping their training data on the device, thereby decoupling the ability to do machine learning from the need to store the data in the cloud. However, FL is difficult to implement and deploy in practice, considering the heterogeneity in mobile devices, e.g., different programming languages, frameworks, and hardware accelerators. Although there are a few frameworks available to simulate FL algorithms (e.g., TensorFlow Federated), they do not support implementing FL workloads on mobile devices. Furthermore, these frameworks are designed to simulate FL in a server environment and hence do not allow experimentation in distributed mobile settings for a large number of clients. In this paper, we present Flower (https://flower.dev/), a FL framework which is both agnostic towards heterogeneous client environments and also scales to a large number of clients, including mobile and embedded devices. Flower's abstractions let developers port existing mobile workloads with little overhead, regardless of the programming language or ML framework used, while also allowing researchers flexibility to experiment with novel approaches to advance the state-of-the-art. We describe the design goals and implementation considerations of Flower and show our experiences in evaluating the performance of FL across clients with heterogeneous computational and communication capabilities.
 
On-device Federated Learning with Flower2021-04-07   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated Learning (FL) allows edge devices to collaboratively learn a shared prediction model while keeping their training data on the device, thereby decoupling the ability to do machine learning from the need to store data in the cloud. Despite the algorithmic advancements in FL, the support for on-device training of FL algorithms on edge devices remains poor. In this paper, we present an exploration of on-device FL on various smartphones and embedded devices using the Flower framework. We also evaluate the system costs of on-device FL and discuss how this quantification could be used to design more efficient FL algorithms.
 
FedAR: Activity and Resource-Aware Federated Learning Model for Distributed Mobile Robots2021-01-11   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Smartphones, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet-of-things (IoT) devices are considered the primary data source for a distributed network. Due to a revolutionary breakthrough in internet availability and continuous improvement of the IoT devices capabilities, it is desirable to store data locally and perform computation at the edge, as opposed to share all local information with a centralized computation agent. A recently proposed Machine Learning (ML) algorithm called Federated Learning (FL) paves the path towards preserving data privacy, performing distributed learning, and reducing communication overhead in large-scale machine learning (ML) problems. This paper proposes an FL model by monitoring client activities and leveraging available local computing resources, particularly for resource-constrained IoT devices (e.g., mobile robots), to accelerate the learning process. We assign a trust score to each FL client, which is updated based on the client's activities. We consider a distributed mobile robot as an FL client with resource limitations either in memory, bandwidth, processor, or battery life. We consider such mobile robots as FL clients to understand their resource-constrained behavior in a real-world setting. We consider an FL client to be untrustworthy if the client infuses incorrect models or repeatedly gives slow responses during the FL process. After disregarding the ineffective and unreliable client, we perform local training on the selected FL clients. To further reduce the straggler issue, we enable an asynchronous FL mechanism by performing aggregation on the FL server without waiting for a long period to receive a particular client's response.
 
Federated Learning for Resource-Constrained IoT Devices: Panoramas and State-of-the-art2020-02-24   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Nowadays, devices are equipped with advanced sensors with higher processing/computing capabilities. Further, widespread Internet availability enables communication among sensing devices. As a result, vast amounts of data are generated on edge devices to drive Internet-of-Things (IoT), crowdsourcing, and other emerging technologies. The collected extensive data can be pre-processed, scaled, classified, and finally, used for predicting future events using machine learning (ML) methods. In traditional ML approaches, data is sent to and processed in a central server, which encounters communication overhead, processing delay, privacy leakage, and security issues. To overcome these challenges, each client can be trained locally based on its available data and by learning from the global model. This decentralized learning structure is referred to as Federated Learning (FL). However, in large-scale networks, there may be clients with varying computational resource capabilities. This may lead to implementation and scalability challenges for FL techniques. In this paper, we first introduce some recently implemented real-life applications of FL. We then emphasize on the core challenges of implementing the FL algorithms from the perspective of resource limitations (e.g., memory, bandwidth, and energy budget) of client clients. We finally discuss open issues associated with FL and highlight future directions in the FL area concerning resource-constrained devices.
 
VAFL: a Method of Vertical Asynchronous Federated Learning2020-07-12   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Horizontal Federated learning (FL) handles multi-client data that share the same set of features, and vertical FL trains a better predictor that combine all the features from different clients. This paper targets solving vertical FL in an asynchronous fashion, and develops a simple FL method. The new method allows each client to run stochastic gradient algorithms without coordination with other clients, so it is suitable for intermittent connectivity of clients. This method further uses a new technique of perturbed local embedding to ensure data privacy and improve communication efficiency. Theoretically, we present the convergence rate and privacy level of our method for strongly convex, nonconvex and even nonsmooth objectives separately. Empirically, we apply our method to FL on various image and healthcare datasets. The results compare favorably to centralized and synchronous FL methods.
 
Inverse Distance Aggregation for Federated Learning with Non-IID Data2020-08-17   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) has been a promising approach in the field of medical imaging in recent years. A critical problem in FL, specifically in medical scenarios is to have a more accurate shared model which is robust to noisy and out-of distribution clients. In this work, we tackle the problem of statistical heterogeneity in data for FL which is highly plausible in medical data where for example the data comes from different sites with different scanner settings. We propose IDA (Inverse Distance Aggregation), a novel adaptive weighting approach for clients based on meta-information which handles unbalanced and non-iid data. We extensively analyze and evaluate our method against the well-known FL approach, Federated Averaging as a baseline.
 
LINDT: Tackling Negative Federated Learning with Local Adaptation2020-11-22   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated Learning (FL) is a promising distributed learning paradigm, which allows a number of data owners (also called clients) to collaboratively learn a shared model without disclosing each client's data. However, FL may fail to proceed properly, amid a state that we call negative federated learning (NFL). This paper addresses the problem of negative federated learning. We formulate a rigorous definition of NFL and analyze its essential cause. We propose a novel framework called LINDT for tackling NFL in run-time. The framework can potentially work with any neural-network-based FL systems for NFL detection and recovery. Specifically, we introduce a metric for detecting NFL from the server. On occasion of NFL recovery, the framework makes adaptation to the federated model on each client's local data by learning a Layer-wise Intertwined Dual-model. Experiment results show that the proposed approach can significantly improve the performance of FL on local data in various scenarios of NFL.
 
FOCUS: Dealing with Label Quality Disparity in Federated Learning2020-01-29   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Ubiquitous systems with End-Edge-Cloud architecture are increasingly being used in healthcare applications. Federated Learning (FL) is highly useful for such applications, due to silo effect and privacy preserving. Existing FL approaches generally do not account for disparities in the quality of local data labels. However, the clients in ubiquitous systems tend to suffer from label noise due to varying skill-levels, biases or malicious tampering of the annotators. In this paper, we propose Federated Opportunistic Computing for Ubiquitous Systems (FOCUS) to address this challenge. It maintains a small set of benchmark samples on the FL server and quantifies the credibility of the client local data without directly observing them by computing the mutual cross-entropy between performance of the FL model on the local datasets and that of the client local FL model on the benchmark dataset. Then, a credit weighted orchestration is performed to adjust the weight assigned to clients in the FL model based on their credibility values. FOCUS has been experimentally evaluated on both synthetic data and real-world data. The results show that it effectively identifies clients with noisy labels and reduces their impact on the model performance, thereby significantly outperforming existing FL approaches.
 
On the Impact of Device and Behavioral Heterogeneity in Federated Learning2021-02-15   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) is becoming a popular paradigm for collaborative learning over distributed, private datasets owned by non-trusting entities. FL has seen successful deployment in production environments, and it has been adopted in services such as virtual keyboards, auto-completion, item recommendation, and several IoT applications. However, FL comes with the challenge of performing training over largely heterogeneous datasets, devices, and networks that are out of the control of the centralized FL server. Motivated by this inherent setting, we make a first step towards characterizing the impact of device and behavioral heterogeneity on the trained model. We conduct an extensive empirical study spanning close to 1.5K unique configurations on five popular FL benchmarks. Our analysis shows that these sources of heterogeneity have a major impact on both model performance and fairness, thus sheds light on the importance of considering heterogeneity in FL system design.
 
Blockchain Assisted Decentralized Federated Learning (BLADE-FL): Performance Analysis and Resource Allocation2021-01-18   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL), as a distributed machine learning paradigm, promotes personal privacy by clients' processing raw data locally. However, relying on a centralized server for model aggregation, standard FL is vulnerable to server malfunctions, untrustworthy server, and external attacks. To address this issue, we propose a decentralized FL framework by integrating blockchain into FL, namely, blockchain assisted decentralized federated learning (BLADE-FL). In a round of the proposed BLADE-FL, each client broadcasts its trained model to other clients, competes to generate a block based on the received models, and then aggregates the models from the generated block before its local training of the next round. We evaluate the learning performance of BLADE-FL, and develop an upper bound on the global loss function. Then we verify that this bound is convex with respect to the number of overall rounds K, and optimize the computing resource allocation for minimizing the upper bound. We also note that there is a critical problem of training deficiency, caused by lazy clients who plagiarize others' trained models and add artificial noises to disguise their cheating behaviors. Focusing on this problem, we explore the impact of lazy clients on the learning performance of BLADE-FL, and characterize the relationship among the optimal K, the learning parameters, and the proportion of lazy clients. Based on the MNIST and Fashion-MNIST datasets, we show that the experimental results are consistent with the analytical ones. To be specific, the gap between the developed upper bound and experimental results is lower than 5%, and the optimized K based on the upper bound can effectively minimize the loss function.
 
A Systematic Literature Review on Federated Learning: From A Model Quality Perspective2020-12-01   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
As an emerging technique, Federated Learning (FL) can jointly train a global model with the data remaining locally, which effectively solves the problem of data privacy protection through the encryption mechanism. The clients train their local model, and the server aggregates models until convergence. In this process, the server uses an incentive mechanism to encourage clients to contribute high-quality and large-volume data to improve the global model. Although some works have applied FL to the Internet of Things (IoT), medicine, manufacturing, etc., the application of FL is still in its infancy, and many related issues need to be solved. Improving the quality of FL models is one of the current research hotspots and challenging tasks. This paper systematically reviews and objectively analyzes the approaches to improving the quality of FL models. We are also interested in the research and application trends of FL and the effect comparison between FL and non-FL because the practitioners usually worry that achieving privacy protection needs compromising learning quality. We use a systematic review method to analyze 147 latest articles related to FL. This review provides useful information and insights to both academia and practitioners from the industry. We investigate research questions about academic research and industrial application trends of FL, essential factors affecting the quality of FL models, and compare FL and non-FL algorithms in terms of learning quality. Based on our review's conclusion, we give some suggestions for improving the FL model quality. Finally, we propose an FL application framework for practitioners.
 
Blockchain Assisted Decentralized Federated Learning (BLADE-FL) with Lazy Clients2020-12-02   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL), as a distributed machine learning approach, has drawn a great amount of attention in recent years. FL shows an inherent advantage in privacy preservation, since users' raw data are processed locally. However, it relies on a centralized server to perform model aggregation. Therefore, FL is vulnerable to server malfunctions and external attacks. In this paper, we propose a novel framework by integrating blockchain into FL, namely, blockchain assisted decentralized federated learning (BLADE-FL), to enhance the security of FL. The proposed BLADE-FL has a good performance in terms of privacy preservation, tamper resistance, and effective cooperation of learning. However, it gives rise to a new problem of training deficiency, caused by lazy clients who plagiarize others' trained models and add artificial noises to conceal their cheating behaviors. To be specific, we first develop a convergence bound of the loss function with the presence of lazy clients and prove that it is convex with respect to the total number of generated blocks $K$. Then, we solve the convex problem by optimizing $K$ to minimize the loss function. Furthermore, we discover the relationship between the optimal $K$, the number of lazy clients, and the power of artificial noises used by lazy clients. We conduct extensive experiments to evaluate the performance of the proposed framework using the MNIST and Fashion-MNIST datasets. Our analytical results are shown to be consistent with the experimental results. In addition, the derived optimal $K$ achieves the minimum value of loss function, and in turn the optimal accuracy performance.
 
Robust Blockchained Federated Learning with Model Validation and Proof-of-Stake Inspired Consensus2021-01-09   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) is a promising distributed learning solution that only exchanges model parameters without revealing raw data. However, the centralized architecture of FL is vulnerable to the single point of failure. In addition, FL does not examine the legitimacy of local models, so even a small fraction of malicious devices can disrupt global training. To resolve these robustness issues of FL, in this paper, we propose a blockchain-based decentralized FL framework, termed VBFL, by exploiting two mechanisms in a blockchained architecture. First, we introduced a novel decentralized validation mechanism such that the legitimacy of local model updates is examined by individual validators. Second, we designed a dedicated proof-of-stake consensus mechanism where stake is more frequently rewarded to honest devices, which protects the legitimate local model updates by increasing their chances of dictating the blocks appended to the blockchain. Together, these solutions promote more federation within legitimate devices, enabling robust FL. Our emulation results of the MNIST classification corroborate that with 15% of malicious devices, VBFL achieves 87% accuracy, which is 7.4x higher than Vanilla FL.
 
Advances and Open Problems in Federated Learning2019-12-10   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) is a machine learning setting where many clients (e.g. mobile devices or whole organizations) collaboratively train a model under the orchestration of a central server (e.g. service provider), while keeping the training data decentralized. FL embodies the principles of focused data collection and minimization, and can mitigate many of the systemic privacy risks and costs resulting from traditional, centralized machine learning and data science approaches. Motivated by the explosive growth in FL research, this paper discusses recent advances and presents an extensive collection of open problems and challenges.
 
Personalized Federated Learning with Moreau Envelopes2020-06-15   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) is a decentralized and privacy-preserving machine learning technique in which a group of clients collaborate with a server to learn a global model without sharing clients' data. One challenge associated with FL is statistical diversity among clients, which restricts the global model from delivering good performance on each client's task. To address this, we propose an algorithm for personalized FL (pFedMe) using Moreau envelopes as clients' regularized loss functions, which help decouple personalized model optimization from the global model learning in a bi-level problem stylized for personalized FL. Theoretically, we show that pFedMe's convergence rate is state-of-the-art: achieving quadratic speedup for strongly convex and sublinear speedup of order 2/3 for smooth nonconvex objectives. Experimentally, we verify that pFedMe excels at empirical performance compared with the vanilla FedAvg and Per-FedAvg, a meta-learning based personalized FL algorithm.
 
Semi-Federated Learning2020-03-28   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) enables massive distributed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices to learn a global consensus model without any participants revealing their own data to the central server. However, the practicality, communication expense and non-independent and identical distribution (Non-IID) data challenges in FL still need to be concerned. In this work, we propose the Semi-Federated Learning (Semi-FL) which differs from the FL in two aspects, local clients clustering and in-cluster training. A sequential training manner is designed for our in-cluster training in this paper which enables the neighboring clients to share their learning models. The proposed Semi-FL can be easily applied to future mobile communication networks and require less up-link transmission bandwidth. Numerical experiments validate the feasibility, learning performance and the robustness to Non-IID data of the proposed Semi-FL. The Semi-FL extends the existing potentials of FL.
 
Reliability and Performance Assessment of Federated Learning on Clinical Benchmark Data2020-05-24   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
As deep learning have been applied in a clinical context, privacy concerns have increased because of the collection and processing of a large amount of personal data. Recently, federated learning (FL) has been suggested to protect personal privacy because it does not centralize data during the training phase. In this study, we assessed the reliability and performance of FL on benchmark datasets including MNIST and MIMIC-III. In addition, we attempted to verify FL on datasets that simulated a realistic clinical data distribution. We implemented FL that uses a client and server architecture and tested client and server FL on modified MNIST and MIMIC-III datasets. FL delivered reliable performance on both imbalanced and extremely skewed distributions (i.e., the difference of the number of patients and the characteristics of patients in each hospital). Therefore, FL can be suitable to protect privacy when applied to medical data.
 
Oort: Informed Participant Selection for Scalable Federated Learning2020-10-12   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated Learning (FL) is an emerging direction in distributed machine learning (ML) that enables in-situ model training and testing on edge data. Despite having the same end goals as traditional ML, FL executions differ significantly in scale, spanning thousands to millions of participating devices. As a result, data characteristics and device capabilities vary widely across clients. Yet, existing efforts randomly select FL participants, which leads to poor model and system efficiency. In this paper, we propose Kuiper to improve the performance of federated training and testing with guided participant selection. With an aim to improve time-to-accuracy performance in model training, Kuiper prioritizes the use of those clients who have both data that offers the greatest utility in improving model accuracy and the capability to run training quickly. To enable FL developers to interpret their results in model testing, Kuiper enforces their requirements on the distribution of participant data while improving the duration of federated testing by cherry-picking clients. Our evaluation shows that, compared to existing participant selection mechanisms, Kuiper improves time-to-accuracy performance by 1.2x-14.1x and final model accuracy by 1.3%-9.8%, while efficiently enforcing developer requirements on data distributions at the scale of millions of clients.
 
Heterogeneity-Aware Federated Learning2020-06-12   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated learning (FL) is an emerging distributed machine learning paradigm that stands out with its inherent privacy-preserving advantages. Heterogeneity is one of the core challenges in FL, which resides in the diverse user behaviors and hardware capacity across devices who participate in the training. Heterogeneity inherently exerts a huge influence on the FL training process, e.g., causing device unavailability. However, existing FL literature usually ignores the impacts of heterogeneity. To fill in the knowledge gap, we build FLASH, the first heterogeneity-aware FL platform. Based on FLASH and a large-scale user trace from 136k real-world users, we demonstrate the usefulness of FLASH in anatomizing the impacts of heterogeneity in FL by exploring three previously unaddressed research questions: whether and how can heterogeneity affect FL performance; how to configure a heterogeneity-aware FL system; and what are heterogeneity's impacts on existing FL optimizations. It shows that heterogeneity causes nontrivial performance degradation in FL from various aspects, and even invalidates some typical FL optimizations.
 
Improving Accuracy of Federated Learning in Non-IID Settings2020-10-14   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Federated Learning (FL) is a decentralized machine learning protocol that allows a set of participating agents to collaboratively train a model without sharing their data. This makes FL particularly suitable for settings where data privacy is desired. However, it has been observed that the performance of FL is closely tied with the local data distributions of agents. Particularly, in settings where local data distributions vastly differ among agents, FL performs rather poorly with respect to the centralized training. To address this problem, we hypothesize the reasons behind the performance degradation, and develop some techniques to address these reasons accordingly. In this work, we identify four simple techniques that can improve the performance of trained models without incurring any additional communication overhead to FL, but rather, some light computation overhead either on the client, or the server-side. In our experimental analysis, combination of our techniques improved the validation accuracy of a model trained via FL by more than 12% with respect to our baseline. This is about 5% less than the accuracy of the model trained on centralized data.