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Federated Orthogonal Training: Mitigating Global Catastrophic Forgetting in Continual Federated Learning

Yavuz Faruk Bakman · Duygu Nur Yaldiz · Yahya Ezzeldin · Salman Avestimehr

Halle B #177
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Thu 9 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Federated Learning (FL) has gained significant attraction due to its ability to enable privacy-preserving training over decentralized data. Current literature in FL mostly focuses on single-task learning. However, over time, new tasks may appear in the clients and the global model should learn these tasks without forgetting previous tasks. This real-world scenario is known as Continual Federated Learning (CFL). The main challenge of CFL is \textit{Global Catastrophic Forgetting}, which corresponds to the fact that when the global model is trained on new tasks, its performance on old tasks decreases. There have been a few recent works on CFL to propose methods that aim to address the global catastrophic forgetting problem. However, these works either have unrealistic assumptions on the availability of past data samples or violate the privacy principles of FL. We propose a novel method, Federated Orthogonal Training (FOT), to overcome these drawbacks and address the global catastrophic forgetting in CFL. Our algorithm extracts the global input subspace of each layer for old tasks and modifies the aggregated updates of new tasks such that they are orthogonal to the global principal subspace of old tasks for each layer. This decreases the interference between tasks, which is the main cause for forgetting. Our method is almost computation-free on the client side and has negligible communication cost. We empirically show that FOT outperforms state-of-the-art continual learning methods in the CFL setting, achieving an average accuracy gain of up to 15% with 27% lower forgetting while only incurring a minimal computation and communication cost. Code can be found here

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