Over-the-Air Federated Learning from Heterogeneous Data

09/27/2020 ∙ by Tomer Sery, et al. ∙ 0

Federated learning (FL) is a framework for distributed learning of centralized models. In FL, a set of edge devices train a model using their local data, while repeatedly exchanging their trained updates with a central server. This procedure allows tuning a centralized model in a distributed fashion without having the users share their possibly private data. In this paper, we focus on over-the-air (OTA) FL, which has been suggested recently to reduce the communication overhead of FL due to the repeated transmissions of the model updates by a large number of users over the wireless channel. In OTA FL, all users simultaneously transmit their updates as analog signals over a multiple access channel, and the server receives a superposition of the analog transmitted signals. However, this approach results in the channel noise directly affecting the optimization procedure, which may degrade the accuracy of the trained model. We develop a Convergent OTA FL (COTAF) algorithm which enhances the common local stochastic gradient descent (SGD) FL algorithm, introducing precoding at the users and scaling at the server, which gradually mitigates the effect of the noise. We analyze the convergence of COTAF to the loss minimizing model and quantify the effect of a statistically heterogeneous setup, i.e. when the training data of each user obeys a different distribution. Our analysis reveals the ability of COTAF to achieve a convergence rate similar to that achievable over error-free channels. Our simulations demonstrate the improved convergence of COTAF over vanilla OTA local SGD for training using non-synthetic datasets. Furthermore, we numerically show that the precoding induced by COTAF notably improves the convergence rate and the accuracy of models trained via OTA FL.

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