PartialFed: Cross-Domain Personalized Federated Learning via Partial Initialization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Benyuan Sun, Hongxing Huo, YI YANG, Bo Bai


The burst of applications empowered by massive data have aroused unprecedented privacy concerns in AI society. Currently, data confidentiality protection has been one core issue during deep model training. Federated Learning (FL), which enables privacy-preserving training across multiple silos, gained rising popularity for its parameter-only communication. However, previous works have shown that FL revealed a significant performance drop if the data distributions are heterogeneous among different clients, especially when the clients have cross-domain characteristic, such as traffic, aerial and in-door. To address this challenging problem, we propose a novel idea, PartialFed, which loads a subset of the global model’s parameters rather than loading the entire model used in most previous works. We first validate our algorithm with manually decided loading strategies inspired by various expert priors, named PartialFed-Fix. Then we develop PartialFed-Adaptive, which automatically selects personalized loading strategy for each client. The superiority of our algorithm is proved by demonstrating the new state-of-the-art results on cross-domain federated classification and detection. In particular, solely by initializing a small fraction of layers locally, we improve the performance of FedAvg on Office-Home and UODB by 4.88% and 2.65%, respectively. Further studies show that the adaptive strategy performs significantly better on domains with large deviation, e.g. improves AP50 by 4.03% and 4.89% on aerial and medical image detection compared to FedAvg.