pFedSim: Similarity-Aware Model Aggregation Towards Personalized Federated Learning


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The federated learning (FL) paradigm emerges to preserve data privacy during model training by only exposing clients' model parameters rather than original data. One of the biggest challenges in FL lies in the non-IID (not identical and independently distributed) data (a.k.a., data heterogeneity) distributed on clients. To address this challenge, various personalized FL (pFL) methods are proposed such as similarity-based aggregation and model decoupling. The former one aggregates models from clients of a similar data distribution. The later one decouples a neural network (NN) model into a feature extractor and a classifier. Personalization is captured by classifiers which are obtained by local training. To advance pFL, we propose a novel pFedSim (pFL based on model similarity) algorithm in this work by combining these two kinds of methods. More specifically, we decouple a NN model into a personalized feature extractor, obtained by aggregating models from similar clients, and a classifier, which is obtained by local training and used to estimate client similarity. Compared with the state-of-the-art baselines, the advantages of pFedSim include: 1) significantly improved model accuracy; 2) low communication and computation overhead; 3) a low risk of privacy leakage; 4) no requirement for any external public information. To demonstrate the superiority of pFedSim, extensive experiments are conducted on real datasets. The results validate the superb performance of our algorithm which can significantly outperform baselines under various heterogeneous data settings.
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