SCAFFOLD: Stochastic Controlled Averaging for Federated Learning

Jul 12, 2020



Federated learning is a key scenario in modern large-scale machine learning where the data remains distributed over a large number of clients and the task is to learn a centralized model without transmitting the client data. The standard optimization algorithm used in this setting is Federated Averaging (FedAvg) due to its low communication cost. We obtain a tight characterization of the convergence of FedAvg and prove that heterogeneity (non-iid-ness) in the client's data results in a `drift' in the local updates resulting in poor performance. As a solution, we propose a new algorithm (SCAFFOLD) which uses control variates (variance reduction) to correct for the `client drift'. We prove that SCAFFOLD requires singificantly fewer communication rounds and is not affected by data heterogeneity or client sampling. Further, we show that (for quadratics) SCAFFOLD can take advantage of similarity in the client's data yielding even faster convergence. The latter is the first result to quanitfy the usefulness of local-steps in distributed optimization.



About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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