With a Little Help from My Friend: Server-Aided Federated Learning with Partial Client ParticipationDownload PDF

Published: 21 Oct 2022, Last Modified: 05 May 2023FL-NeurIPS 2022 PosterReaders: Everyone
Abstract: Although federated learning (FL) has been a prevailing distributed learning framework in recent years due to its benefits in scalability/privacy and rich applications in practice, there remain many challenges in FL system design, such as data and system heterogeneity. Notably, most existing works in the current literature only focus on addressing data heterogeneity issues (e.g., non-i.i.d. datasets across clients), while often assuming either full client or uniformly distributed client participation. However, such idealistic assumptions on client participation rarely hold in practical FL systems. It has been frequently found in FL systems that some clients may never participate in the training (aka partial/incomplete participation) due to various reasons. This motivates us to fully investigate the impacts of incomplete FL participation and develop effective mechanisms to mitigate such impacts. Toward this end, by establishing a fundamental generalization error lower bound, we first show that conventional FL is {\em not} PAC-learnable under incomplete participation. To overcome this challenge, we propose a new server-aided federated learning (SA-FL) framework with an auxiliary dataset deployed at the server, which is able to revive the PAC-learnability of FL under incomplete client participation. Upon resolving the PAC-learnability challenge, we further propose the SAFARI (server-aided federated averaging) algorithm that enjoys convergence guarantee and the same level of communication efficiency and privacy as state-of-the-art FL.
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