Randomized Quantization is All You Need for Differential Privacy in Federated Learning

Published: 19 Jun 2023, Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023FL-ICML 2023EveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: federated learning, differential privacy, communication, randomized quantization, privacy-accuracy trade-off
TL;DR: We develop a new algorithm called the Randomized Quantization Mechanism (RQM), which obtains privacy through randomization of the choice of quantization, to improve the privacy-accuracy trade-off in federated learning.
Abstract: Federated learning (FL) is a common and practical framework for learning a machine model in a decentralized fashion. A primary motivation behind this decentralized approach is data privacy, ensuring that the learner never sees the data of each local source itself. Federated learning then comes with two majors challenges: one is handling potentially complex model updates between a server and a large number of data sources; the other is that de-centralization may, in fact, be insufficient for privacy, as the local updates themselves can reveal information about the sources' data. To address these issues, we consider an approach to federated learning that combines quantization and differential privacy. Absent privacy, Federated Learning often relies on quantization to reduce communication complexity. We build upon this approach and develop a new algorithm called the \textbf{R}andomized \textbf{Q}uantization \textbf{M}echanism (RQM), which obtains privacy through a two-levels of randomization. More precisely, we randomly sub-sample feasible quantization levels, then employ a randomized rounding procedure using these sub-sampled discrete levels. We are able to establish that our results preserve ``Renyi differential privacy'' (Renyi DP). We empirically study the performance of our algorithm and demonstrate that compared to previous work it yields improved privacy-accuracy trade-offs for DP federated learning. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that solely relies on randomized quantization without incorporating explicit discrete noise to achieve Renyi DP guarantees in Federated Learning systems.
Submission Number: 19