Asynchronous online federated learning with reduced communication requirements
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Online federated learning (FL) enables geographically distributed devices to learn a global shared model from locally available streaming data. Most online FL literature considers a best-case scenario regarding the participating clients and the communication channels. However, these assumptions are often not met in real-world applications. Asynchronous settings can reflect a more realistic environment, such as heterogeneous client participation due to available computational power and battery constraints, as well as delays caused by communication channels or straggler devices. Further, in most applications, energy efficiency must be taken into consideration. Using the principles of partial-sharing-based communications, we propose a communication-efficient asynchronous online federated learning (PAO-Fed) strategy. By reducing the communication load of the participants, the proposed method renders participation more accessible and efficient. In addition, the proposed aggregation mechanism accounts for random participation, handles delayed updates and mitigates their effect on accuracy. We study the first and second-order convergence of the proposed PAO-Fed method and obtain an expression for its steady-state mean square deviation. Finally, we conduct comprehensive simulations to study the performance of the proposed method on both synthetic and real-life datasets. The simulations reveal that in asynchronous settings, the proposed PAO-Fed is able to achieve the same convergence properties as that of the online federated stochastic gradient while reducing the communication by 98 percent.