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Differentially Private Federated Learning on Heterogeneous Data

Maxence Noble-Bourillot · AurĂ©lien Bellet · Aymeric Dieuleveut



Federated Learning (FL) is a paradigm for large-scale distributed learning which faces two key challenges: (i) training efficiently from highly heterogeneous user data, and (ii) protecting the privacy of participating users. In this work, we propose a novel FL approach (DP-SCAFFOLD) to tackle these two challenges together by incorporating Differential Privacy (DP) constraints into the popular SCAFFOLD algorithm. We focus on the challenging setting where users communicate with a ``honest-but-curious'' server without any trusted intermediary, which requires to ensure privacy not only towards a third party observing the final model but also towards the server itself. Using advanced results from DP theory, we establish the convergence of our algorithm for convex and non-convex objectives. Our paper clearly highlights the trade-off between utility and privacy and demonstrates the superiority of DP-SCAFFOLD over the state-of-the-art algorithm DP-FedAvg when the number of local updates and the level of heterogeneity grows. Our numerical results confirm our analysis and show that DP-SCAFFOLD provides significant gains in practice.

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