Vertical Federated Learning: Taxonomies, Threats, and Prospects

3 Feb 2023  ·  Qun Li, Chandra Thapa, Lawrence Ong, Yifeng Zheng, Hua Ma, Seyit A. Camtepe, Anmin Fu, Yansong Gao ·

Federated learning (FL) is the most popular distributed machine learning technique. FL allows machine-learning models to be trained without acquiring raw data to a single point for processing. Instead, local models are trained with local data; the models are then shared and combined. This approach preserves data privacy as locally trained models are shared instead of the raw data themselves. Broadly, FL can be divided into horizontal federated learning (HFL) and vertical federated learning (VFL). For the former, different parties hold different samples over the same set of features; for the latter, different parties hold different feature data belonging to the same set of samples. In a number of practical scenarios, VFL is more relevant than HFL as different companies (e.g., bank and retailer) hold different features (e.g., credit history and shopping history) for the same set of customers. Although VFL is an emerging area of research, it is not well-established compared to HFL. Besides, VFL-related studies are dispersed, and their connections are not intuitive. Thus, this survey aims to bring these VFL-related studies to one place. Firstly, we classify existing VFL structures and algorithms. Secondly, we present the threats from security and privacy perspectives to VFL. Thirdly, for the benefit of future researchers, we discussed the challenges and prospects of VFL in detail.

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