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Is Heterogeneity Notorious? Taming Heterogeneity to Handle Test-Time Shift in Federated Learning

Yue Tan · Chen Chen · Weiming Zhuang · Xin Dong · Lingjuan Lyu · Guodong Long

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1126
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Thu 14 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


Federated learning (FL) is an effective machine learning paradigm where multiple clients can train models based on heterogeneous data in a decentralized manner without accessing their private data. However, existing FL systems undergo performance deterioration due to feature-level test-time shifts, which are well investigated in centralized settings but rarely studied in FL. The common non-IID issue in FL usually refers to inter-client heterogeneity during training phase, while the test-time shift refers to the intra-client heterogeneity during test phase. Although the former is always deemed to be notorious for FL, there is still a wealth of useful information delivered by heterogeneous data sources, which may potentially help alleviate the latter issue. To explore the possibility of using inter-client heterogeneity in handling intra-client heterogeneity, we firstly propose a contrastive learning-based FL framework, namely FedICON, to capture invariant knowledge among heterogeneous clients and consistently tune the model to adapt to test data. In FedICON, each client performs sample-wise supervised contrastive learning during the local training phase, which enhances sample-wise invariance encoding ability. Through global aggregation, the invariance extraction ability can be mutually boosted among inter-client heterogeneity. During the test phase, our test-time adaptation procedure leverages unsupervised contrastive learning to guide the model to smoothly generalize to test data under intra-client heterogeneity. Extensive experiments validate the effectiveness of the proposed FedICON in taming heterogeneity to handle test-time shift problems.

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