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posted on 29.04.2021, 23:39 by Siddharth Divi
Federated learning (FL) is a decentralized privacy-preserving learning technique in which clients learn a joint collaborative model through a central aggregator without sharing their data. In this setting, all clients learn a single common predictor (FedAvg), which does not generalize well on each client's local data due to the statistical data heterogeneity among clients. In this paper, we address this problem with PersFL, a discrete two-stage personalized learning algorithm. In the first stage, PersFL finds the optimal teacher model of each client during the FL training phase. In the second stage, PersFL distills the useful knowledge from optimal teachers into each user's local model. The teacher model provides each client with some rich, high-level representation that a client can easily adapt to its local model, which overcomes the statistical heterogeneity present at different clients. We evaluate PersFL on CIFAR-10 and MNIST datasets using three data-splitting strategies to control the diversity between clients' data distributions.

We empirically show that PersFL outperforms FedAvg and three state-of-the-art personalization methods, pFedMe, Per-FedAvg and FedPer on majority data-splits with minimal communication cost. Further, we study the performance of PersFL on different distillation objectives, how this performance is affected by the equitable notion of fairness among clients, and the number of required communication rounds. We also build an evaluation framework with the following modules: Data Generator, Federated Model Generation, and Evaluation Metrics. We introduce new metrics for the domain of personalized FL, and split these metrics into two perspectives: Performance, and Fairness. We analyze the performance of all the personalized algorithms by applying these metrics to answer the following questions: Which personalization algorithm performs the best in terms of accuracy across all the users?, and Which personalization algorithm is the fairest amongst all of them? Finally, we make the code for this work available at for public use and validation.


Degree Type

Master of Science


Computer Science

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Z. Berkay Celik

Additional Committee Member 2

Kamyar Azizzadenesheli

Additional Committee Member 3

Ming Yin