Straggler-Resilient Federated Learning: Leveraging the Interplay Between Statistical Accuracy and System Heterogeneity

Federated Learning is a novel paradigm that involves learning from data samples distributed across a large network of clients while the data remains local. It is, however, known that federated learning is prone to multiple system challenges including system heterogeneity where clients have different computation and communication capabilities. Such heterogeneity in clients' computation speeds has a negative effect on the scalability of federated learning algorithms and causes significant slow-down in their runtime due to the existence of stragglers. In this paper, we propose a novel straggler-resilient federated learning method that incorporates statistical characteristics of the clients' data to adaptively select the clients in order to speed up the learning procedure. The key idea of our algorithm is to start the training procedure with faster nodes and gradually involve the slower nodes in the model training once the statistical accuracy of the data corresponding to the current participating nodes is reached. The proposed approach reduces the overall runtime required to achieve the statistical accuracy of data of all nodes, as the solution for each stage is close to the solution of the subsequent stage with more samples and can be used as a warm-start. Our theoretical results characterize the speedup gain in comparison to standard federated benchmarks for strongly convex objectives, and our numerical experiments also demonstrate significant speedups in wall-clock time of our straggler-resilient method compared to federated learning benchmarks.

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