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Robust Collaborative Learning with Linear Gradient Overhead

Sadegh Farhadkhani · Rachid Guerraoui · Nirupam Gupta · Lê-Nguyên Hoang · Rafael Pinot · John Stephan

Exhibit Hall 1 #204
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Abstract: Collaborative learning algorithms, such as distributed SGD (or D-SGD), are prone to faulty machines that may deviate from their prescribed algorithm because of software or hardware bugs, poisoned data or malicious behaviors. While many solutions have been proposed to enhance the robustness of D-SGD to such machines, previous works either resort to strong assumptions (trusted server, homogeneous data, specific noise model) or impose a gradient computational cost that is several orders of magnitude higher than that of D-SGD. We present MoNNA, a new algorithm that (a) is provably robust under standard assumptions and (b) has a gradient computation overhead that is linear in the fraction of faulty machines, which is conjectured to be tight. Essentially, MoNNA uses Polyak's momentum of local gradients for local updates and nearest-neighbor averaging (NNA) for global mixing, respectively. While MoNNA is rather simple to implement, its analysis has been more challenging and relies on two key elements that may be of independent interest. Specifically, we introduce the mixing criterion of $(\alpha, \lambda)$-reduction to analyze the non-linear mixing of non-faulty machines, and present a way to control the tension between the momentum and the model drifts. We validate our theory by experiments on image classification and make our code available at

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