In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
On the Importance and Applicability of Pre-Training for Federated Learning
Hong-You Chen · Cheng-Hao Tu · Ziwei Li · Han Wei Shen · Wei-Lun Chao
Pre-training is prevalent in nowadays deep learning to improve the learned model's performance. However, in the literature on federated learning (FL), neural networks are mostly initialized with random weights. These attract our interest in conducting a systematic study to explore pre-training for FL. Across multiple visual recognition benchmarks, we found that pre-training can not only improve FL, but also close its accuracy gap to the counterpart centralized learning, especially in the challenging cases of non-IID clients' data. To make our findings applicable to situations where pre-trained models are not directly available, we explore pre-training with synthetic data or even with clients' data in a decentralized manner, and found that they can already improve FL notably. Interestingly, many of the techniques we explore are complementary to each other to further boost the performance, and we view this as a critical result toward scaling up deep FL for real-world applications. We conclude our paper with an attempt to understand the effect of pre-training on FL. We found that pre-training enables the learned global models under different clients' data conditions to converge to the same loss basin, and makes global aggregation in FL more stable. Nevertheless, pre-training seems to not alleviate local model drifting, a fundamental problem in FL under non-IID data.