Purdue University Graduate School
Azam_SS_Purdue_MS_Thesis.pdf (11.62 MB)

Towards Privacy and Communication Efficiency in Distributed Representation Learning

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posted on 2022-06-10, 16:35 authored by Sheikh S AzamSheikh S Azam

Over the past decade, distributed representation learning has emerged as a popular alternative to conventional centralized machine learning training. The increasing interest in distributed representation learning, specifically federated learning, can be attributed to its fundamental property that promotes data privacy and communication savings. While conventional ML encourages aggregating data at a central location (e.g., data centers), distributed representation learning advocates keeping data at the source and instead transmitting model parameters across the network. However, since the advent of deep learning, model sizes have become increasingly large often comprising million-billions of parameters, which leads to the problem of communication latency in the learning process. In this thesis, we propose to tackle the problem of communication latency in two different ways: (i) learning private representation of data to enable its sharing, and (ii) reducing the communication latency by minimizing the corresponding long-range communication requirements.

To tackle the former goal, we first start by studying the problem of learning representations that are private yet informative, i.e., providing information about intended ''ally'' targets while hiding sensitive ''adversary'' attributes. We propose Exclusion-Inclusion Generative Adversarial Network (EIGAN), a generalized private representation learning (PRL) architecture that accounts for multiple ally and adversary attributes, unlike existing PRL solutions. We then address the practical constraints of the distributed datasets by developing Distributed EIGAN (D-EIGAN), the first distributed PRL method that learns a private representation at each node without transmitting the source data. We theoretically analyze the behavior of adversaries under the optimal EIGAN and D-EIGAN encoders and the impact of dependencies among ally and adversary tasks on the optimization objective. Our experiments on various datasets demonstrate the advantages of EIGAN in terms of performance, robustness, and scalability. In particular, EIGAN outperforms the previous state-of-the-art by a significant accuracy margin (47% improvement), and D-EIGAN's performance is consistently on par with EIGAN under different network settings.

We next tackle the latter objective - reducing the communication latency - and propose two timescale hybrid federated learning (TT-HF), a semi-decentralized learning architecture that combines the conventional device-to-server communication paradigm for federated learning with device-to-device (D2D) communications for model training. In TT-HF, during each global aggregation interval, devices (i) perform multiple stochastic gradient descent iterations on their individual datasets, and (ii) aperiodically engage in consensus procedure of their model parameters through cooperative, distributed D2D communications within local clusters. With a new general definition of gradient diversity, we formally study the convergence behavior of TT-HF, resulting in new convergence bounds for distributed ML. We leverage our convergence bounds to develop an adaptive control algorithm that tunes the step size, D2D communication rounds, and global aggregation period of TT-HF over time to target a sublinear convergence rate of O(1/t) while minimizing network resource utilization. Our subsequent experiments demonstrate that TT-HF significantly outperforms the current art in federated learning in terms of model accuracy and/or network energy consumption in different scenarios where local device datasets exhibit statistical heterogeneity. Finally, our numerical evaluations demonstrate robustness against outages caused by fading channels, as well favorable performance with non-convex loss functions.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Christopher Brinton

Additional Committee Member 2

Shreyas Sundaram

Additional Committee Member 3

Qiang Qiu