Federated Optimization in Heterogenous Networks

March 2, 2020


Federated Learning is a distributed learning paradigm with two key challenges that differentiate it from traditional distributed optimization: (1) significant variability in terms of the systems characteristics on each device in the network (systems heterogeneity), and (2) non-identically distributed data across the network (statistical heterogeneity). In this work, we introduce a framework, FedProx, to tackle heterogeneity in federated networks. FedProx can be viewed as a generalization and re-parametrization of FedAvg, the current state-of-the-art method for federated learning. While this re-parameterization makes only minor modifications to the method itself, these modifications have important ramifications both in theory and in practice. Theoretically, we provide convergence guarantees for our framework when learning over data from non-identical distributions (statistical heterogeneity), and while adhering to device-level systems constraints by allowing each participating device to perform a variable amount of work (systems heterogeneity). Practically, we demonstrate that FedProx allows for more robust convergence than FedAvg across a suite of realistic federated datasets. In particular, in highly heterogeneous settings, FedProx demonstrates significantly more stable and accurate convergence behavior relative to FedAvg—improving absolute test accuracy by 22% on average.

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