Keywords: [ representation alignment ] [ federated learning ] [ Domain generalization ]
Federated Learning (FL) refers to the decentralized and privacy-preserving machine learning framework in which multiple clients collaborate (with the help of a central server) to train a global model without sharing their data. However, most existing FL methods only focus on maximizing the model's performance on the source clients' data (e.g., mobile users) without considering its generalization ability to unknown target data (e.g., a new user). In this paper, we incorporate the problem of Domain Generalization (DG) into Federated Learning to tackle the aforementioned issue. However, virtually all existing DG methods require a centralized setting where data is shared across the domains, which violates the principles of decentralized FL and hence not applicable. To this end, we propose a simple yet novel representation learning framework, namely FedSR, which enables domain generalization while still respecting the decentralized and privacy-preserving natures of this FL setting. Motivated by classical machine learning algorithms, we aim to learn a simple representation of the data for better generalization. In particular, we enforce an L2-norm regularizer on the representation and a conditional mutual information (between the representation and the data given the label) regularizer to encourage the model to only learn essential information (while ignoring spurious correlations such as the background). Furthermore, we provide theoretical connections between the above two objectives and representation alignment in domain generalization. Extensive experimental results suggest that our method significantly outperforms relevant baselines in this particular problem.