Collaborating Authors

Smith, Virginia

Federated Multi-Task Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

Federated learning poses new statistical and systems challenges in training machine learning models over distributed networks of devices. In this work, we show that multi-task learning is naturally suited to handle the statistical challenges of this setting, and propose a novel systems-aware optimization method, MOCHA, that is robust to practical systems issues. Our method and theory for the first time consider issues of high communication cost, stragglers, and fault tolerance for distributed multi-task learning. The resulting method achieves significant speedups compared to alternatives in the federated setting, as we demonstrate through simulations on real-world federated datasets. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

Communication-Efficient Distributed Dual Coordinate Ascent

Neural Information Processing Systems

Communication remains the most significant bottleneck in the performance of distributed optimization algorithms for large-scale machine learning. In this paper, we propose a communication-efficient framework, COCOA, that uses local computation in a primal-dual setting to dramatically reduce the amount of necessary communication. We provide a strong convergence rate analysis for this class of algorithms, as well as experiments on real-world distributed datasets with implementations in Spark. In our experiments, we find that as compared to state-of-the-art mini-batch versions of SGD and SDCA algorithms, COCOA converges to the same .001-accurate Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

FedDANE: A Federated Newton-Type Method Machine Learning

Federated learning aims to jointly learn statistical models over massively distributed remote devices. In this work, we propose FedDANE, an optimization method that we adapt from DANE, a method for classical distributed optimization, to handle the practical constraints of federated learning. We provide convergence guarantees for this method when learning over both convex and non-convex functions. Despite encouraging theoretical results, we find that the method has underwhelming performance empirically. In particular, through empirical simulations on both synthetic and real-world datasets, FedDANE consistently underperforms baselines of FedAvg and FedProx in realistic federated settings. We identify low device participation and statistical device heterogeneity as two underlying causes of this underwhelming performance, and conclude by suggesting several directions of future work.

Enhancing the Privacy of Federated Learning with Sketching Machine Learning

In response to growing concerns about user privacy, federated learning has emerged as a promising tool to train statistical models over networks of devices while keeping data localized. Federated learning methods run training tasks directly on user devices and do not share the raw user data with third parties. However, current methods still share model updates, which may contain private information (e.g., one's weight and height), during the training process. Existing efforts that aim to improve the privacy of federated learning make compromises in one or more of the following key areas: performance (particularly communication cost), accuracy, or privacy. To better optimize these trade-offs, we propose that \textit{sketching algorithms} have a unique advantage in that they can provide both privacy and performance benefits while maintaining accuracy. We evaluate the feasibility of sketching-based federated learning with a prototype on three representative learning models. Our initial findings show that it is possible to provide strong privacy guarantees for federated learning without sacrificing performance or accuracy. Our work highlights that there exists a fundamental connection between privacy and communication in distributed settings, and suggests important open problems surrounding the theoretical understanding, methodology, and system design of practical, private federated learning.

Privacy for Free: Communication-Efficient Learning with Differential Privacy Using Sketches Machine Learning

Communication and privacy are two critical concerns in distributed learning. Many existing works treat these concerns separately. In this work, we argue that a natural connection exists between methods for communication reduction and privacy preservation in the context of distributed machine learning. In particular, we prove that Count Sketch, a simple method for data stream summarization, has inherent differential privacy properties. Using these derived privacy guarantees, we propose a novel sketch-based framework (DiffSketch) for distributed learning, where we compress the transmitted messages via sketches to simultaneously achieve communication efficiency and provable privacy benefits. Our evaluation demonstrates that DiffSketch can provide strong differential privacy guarantees (e.g., $\varepsilon$= 1) and reduce communication by 20-50x with only marginal decreases in accuracy. Compared to baselines that treat privacy and communication separately, DiffSketch improves absolute test accuracy by 5%-50% while offering the same privacy guarantees and communication compression.

Progressive Compressed Records: Taking a Byte out of Deep Learning Data Machine Learning

Deep learning training accesses vast amounts of data at high velocity, posing challenges for datasets retrieved over commodity networks and storage devices. We introduce a way to dynamically reduce the overhead of fetching and transporting training data with a method we term Progressive Compressed Records (PCRs). PCRs deviate from previous formats by using progressive compression to convert a single dataset into multiple datasets of increasing fidelity--all without adding to the total dataset size. Empirically, we implement PCRs and evaluate them on a wide range of datasets: ImageNet, HAM10000, Stanford Cars, and CelebA-HQ. Our results show that different tasks can tolerate different levels of compression. PCRs use an on-disk layout that enables applications to efficiently and dynamically access appropriate levels of compression at runtime. In turn, we demonstrate that PCRs can seamlessly enable a 2 speedup in training time on average over baseline formats. Distributed deep learning exploits parallelism to reduce training time, and consists of three key components: the data pipeline (storage), the forward/backward computation (compute), and the variable synchronization (network). However, little attention has been paid toward scaling the storage layer, where training starts and training data is sourced. Unfortunately, hardware trends point to an increasing divide between compute and networking or storage bandwidth (Li et al., 2016; Lim et al., 2019; Kurth et al., 2018). For example, the transportation of data for machine learning is a key factor in the design of modern data centers (Hazelwood et al., 2018), which are expected to be serviced by slow, yet high capacity, storage media for the foreseeable future (David Reinsel, 2018; Cheng et al., 2015; Rosenthal et al., 2012). This, combined with the memory wall--a lack of bandwidth between compute and memory--suggests that, while computation may be sufficient moving forward, the mechanisms for moving data to the compute may not (Wulf & McKee, 1995; Kwon & Rhu, 2018; Hsieh et al., 2017; Zinkevich et al., 2010). The storage pipeline is therefore a natural area to seek improvements in overall training times, which manifest from the storage medium, through the network, and into the compute nodes.

Federated Learning: Challenges, Methods, and Future Directions Machine Learning

Federated learning involves training statistical models over remote devices or siloed data centers, such as mobile phones or hospitals, while keeping data localized. Training in heterogeneous and potentially massive networks introduces novel challenges that require a fundamental departure from standard approaches for large-scale machine learning, distributed optimization, and privacy-preserving data analysis. In this article, we discuss the unique characteristics and challenges of federated learning, provide a broad overview of current approaches, and outline several directions of future work that are relevant to a wide range of research communities.

Fair Resource Allocation in Federated Learning Machine Learning

Federated learning involves training statistical models in massive, heterogeneous networks. Naively minimizing an aggregate loss function in such a network may disproportionately advantage or disadvantage some of the devices. In this work, we propose q-Fair Federated Learning (q-FFL), a novel optimization objective inspired by resource allocation in wireless networks that encourages a more fair (i.e., lower-variance) accuracy distribution across devices in federated networks. To solve q-FFL, we devise a communication-efficient method, q-FedAvg, that is suited to federated networks. We validate both the effectiveness of q-FFL and the efficiency of q-FedAvg on a suite of federated datasets, and show that q-FFL (along with q-FedAvg) outperforms existing baselines in terms of the resulting fairness, flexibility, and efficiency.

SysML: The New Frontier of Machine Learning Systems Machine Learning

Machine learning (ML) techniques are enjoying rapidly increasing adoption. However, designing and implementing the systems that support ML models in real-world deployments remains a significant obstacle, in large part due to the radically different development and deployment profile of modern ML methods, and the range of practical concerns that come with broader adoption. We propose to foster a new systems machine learning research community at the intersection of the traditional systems and ML communities, focused on topics such as hardware systems for ML, software systems for ML, and ML optimized for metrics beyond predictive accuracy. To do this, we describe a new conference, SysML, that explicitly targets research at the intersection of systems and machine learning with a program committee split evenly between experts in systems and ML, and an explicit focus on topics at the intersection of the two.

A Kernel Theory of Modern Data Augmentation Machine Learning

Data augmentation, a technique in which a training set is expanded with class-preserving transformations, is ubiquitous in modern machine learning pipelines. In this paper, we seek to establish a theoretical framework for understanding data augmentation. We approach this from two directions: First, we provide a general model of augmentation as a Markov process, and show that kernels appear naturally with respect to this model, even when we do not employ kernel classification. Next, we analyze more directly the effect of augmentation on kernel classifiers, showing that data augmentation can be approximated by first-order feature averaging and second-order variance regularization components. These frameworks both serve to illustrate the ways in which data augmentation affects the downstream learning model, and the resulting analyses provide novel connections between prior work in invariant kernels, tangent propagation, and robust optimization. Finally, we provide several proof-of-concept applications showing that our theory can be useful for accelerating machine learning workflows, such as reducing the amount of computation needed to train using augmented data, and predicting the utility of a transformation prior to training.