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Towards Federated Learning Under Resource Constraints via Layer-wise Training and Depth Dropout

Pengfei Guo
Warren Morningstar
Raviteja Vemulapalli
Karan Singhal
Vishal M Patel
Philip Mansfield
Practical ML for Developing Countries Workshop @ ICLR 2023, Learning under limited/low resource scenarios (2023)

Abstract

Large machine learning models trained on diverse data have recently seen unprecedented success. Federated learning enables training on private data that may otherwise be inaccessible, such as domain-specific datasets decentralized across many clients. However, federated learning can be difficult to scale to large models when clients have limited resources. This challenge often results in a trade-off between model size and access to diverse data. To mitigate this issue and facilitate training of large models on edge devices, we introduce a simple yet effective strategy, Federated Layer-wise Learning, to simultaneously reduce per-client memory, computation, and communication costs. Clients train just a single layer each round, reducing resource costs considerably with minimal performance degradation. We also introduce Federated Depth Dropout, a complementary technique that randomly drops frozen layers during training, to further reduce resource usage. Coupling these two techniques enables us to effectively train significantly larger models on edge devices. Specifically, we reduce training memory usage by 5x or more in federated self-supervised representation learning and demonstrate that performance in downstream tasks is comparable to conventional federated self-supervised learning.