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The Fundamental Price of Secure Aggregation in Differentially Private Federated Learning
Wei-Ning Chen · Christopher Choquette Choo · Peter Kairouz · Ananda Suresh

Wed Jul 20 03:30 PM -- 05:30 PM (PDT) @ Hall E #1017
We consider the problem of training a $d$ dimensional model with distributed differential privacy (DP) where secure aggregation (SecAgg) is used to ensure that the server only sees the noisy sum of $n$ model updates in every training round. Taking into account the constraints imposed by SecAgg, we characterize the fundamental communication cost required to obtain the best accuracy achievable under $\varepsilon$ central DP (i.e. under a fully trusted server and no communication constraints). Our results show that $\tilde{O}\lp \min(n^2\varepsilon^2, d) \rp$ bits per client are both sufficient and necessary, and this fundamental limit can be achieved by a linear scheme based on sparse random projections. This provides a significant improvement relative to state-of-the-art SecAgg distributed DP schemes which use $\tilde{O}(d\log(d/\varepsilon^2))$ bits per client. Empirically, we evaluate our proposed scheme on real-world federated learning tasks. We find that our theoretical analysis is well matched in practice. In particular, we show that we can reduce the communication cost to under $1.78$ bits per parameter in realistic privacy settings without decreasing test-time performance. Our work hence theoretically and empirically specifies the fundamental price of using SecAgg.

Author Information

Wei-Ning Chen (Stanford University)
Wei-Ning Chen

Wei-Ning Chen is currently a Ph.D. student at Stanford EE under the support of Stanford Graduate Fellowship (SGF). His research interests broadly lie in information-theoretic and algorithmic aspects of data science. He adopt tools mainly from information theory, theoretical machine learning, and statistical inference, with a current focus on distributed inference, federated learning and differential privacy.

Christopher Choquette Choo (Google Brain)
Peter Kairouz (Google)
Ananda Suresh (Google Research)

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