Scaling Language Model Size in Cross-Device Federated Learning

Most studies in cross-device federated learning focus on small models, due to the server-client communication and on-device computation bottlenecks. In this work, we leverage various techniques for mitigating these bottlenecks to train larger language models in cross-device federated learning. With systematic applications of partial model training, quantization, efficient transfer learning, and communication-efficient optimizers, we are able to train a $21$M parameter Transformer that achieves the same perplexity as that of a similarly sized LSTM with $\sim10\times$ smaller client-to-server communication cost and $11\%$ lower perplexity than smaller LSTMs commonly studied in literature.

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