Federated Learning (FL) is an emerging ML training paradigm where clients own their data and collaborate to train a global model without revealing any data to the server and other participants.

Researchers commonly perform experiments in a simulation environment to quickly iterate on ideas. However, existing open-source tools do not offer the efficiency required to simulate FL on larger and more realistic FL datasets. We introduce pfl-research, a fast, modular, and easy-to-use Python framework for simulating FL. It supports TensorFlow, PyTorch, and non-neural network models, and is tightly integrated with state-of-the-art privacy algorithms.

We study the speed of open-source FL frameworks and show that pfl-research is 7-72× faster than alternative open-source frameworks on common cross-device setups. Such speedup will significantly boost the productivity of the FL research community and enable testing hypotheses on realistic FL datasets that were previously too resource intensive. We release a suite of benchmarks that evaluates an algorithm’s overall performance on a diverse set of realistic scenarios.

Related readings and updates.

Importance of Smoothness Induced by Optimizers in FL4ASR: Towards Understanding Federated Learning for End-to-End ASR

In this paper, we start by training End-to-End Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) models using Federated Learning (FL) and examining the fundamental considerations that can be pivotal in minimizing the performance gap in terms of word error rate between models trained using FL versus their centralized counterpart. Specifically, we study the effect of (i) adaptive optimizers, (ii) loss characteristics via altering Connectionist Temporal…
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Federated Learning for Speech Recognition: Revisiting Current Trends Towards Large-Scale ASR

This paper was accepted at the Federated Learning in the Age of Foundation Models workshop at NeurIPS 2023. While automatic speech recognition (ASR) has witnessed remarkable achievements in recent years, it has not garnered a widespread focus within the federated learning (FL) and differential privacy (DP) communities. Meanwhile, ASR is also a well suited benchmark for FL and DP as there is (i) a natural data split across users by using speaker…
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