Gradient Masked Averaging for Federated Learning

Published: 24 Oct 2023, Last Modified: 24 Oct 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: Federated learning (FL) is an emerging paradigm that permits a large number of clients with heterogeneous data to coordinate learning of a unified global model without the need to share data amongst each other. A major challenge in federated learning is the heterogeneity of data across client, which can degrade the performance of standard FL algorithms. Standard FL algorithms involve averaging of model parameters or gradient updates to approximate the global model at the server. However, we argue that in heterogeneous settings, averaging can result in information loss and lead to poor generalization due to the bias induced by dominant client gradients. We hypothesize that to generalize better across non-i.i.d datasets, the algorithms should focus on learning the invariant mechanism that is constant while ignoring spurious mechanisms that differ across clients. Inspired from recent works in Out-of-Distribution generalization, we propose a gradient masked averaging approach for FL as an alternative to the standard averaging of client updates. This aggregation technique for client updates can be adapted as a drop-in replacement in most existing federated algorithms. We perform extensive experiments on multiple FL algorithms with in-distribution, real-world, feature-skewed out-of-distribution, and quantity imbalanced datasets and show that it provides consistent improvements, particularly in the case of heterogeneous clients.
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Changes Since Last Submission: Camera ready version. De-anonimized authors. Included TMLR rebuttal link
Assigned Action Editor: ~Pierre_Alquier1
Submission Number: 1240