Salman Avestimehr


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FedNLP: Benchmarking Federated Learning Methods for Natural Language Processing Tasks
Bill Yuchen Lin | Chaoyang He | Zihang Ze | Hulin Wang | Yufen Hua | Christophe Dupuy | Rahul Gupta | Mahdi Soltanolkotabi | Xiang Ren | Salman Avestimehr
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Increasing concerns and regulations about data privacy and sparsity necessitate the study of privacy-preserving, decentralized learning methods for natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Federated learning (FL) provides promising approaches for a large number of clients (e.g., personal devices or organizations) to collaboratively learn a shared global model to benefit all clients while allowing users to keep their data locally. Despite interest in studying FL methods for NLP tasks, a systematic comparison and analysis is lacking in the literature. Herein, we present the FedNLP, a benchmarking framework for evaluating federated learning methods on four different task formulations: text classification, sequence tagging, question answering, and seq2seq. We propose a universal interface between Transformer-based language models (e.g., BERT, BART) and FL methods (e.g., FedAvg, FedOPT, etc.) under various non-IID partitioning strategies. Our extensive experiments with FedNLP provide empirical comparisons between FL methods and help us better understand the inherent challenges of this direction. The comprehensive analysis points to intriguing and exciting future research aimed at developing FL methods for NLP tasks.

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ActPerFL: Active Personalized Federated Learning
Huili Chen | Jie Ding | Eric Tramel | Shuang Wu | Anit Kumar Sahu | Salman Avestimehr | Tao Zhang
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Federated Learning for Natural Language Processing (FL4NLP 2022)

In the context of personalized federated learning (FL), the critical challenge is to balance local model improvement and global model tuning when the personal and global objectives may not be exactly aligned. Inspired by Bayesian hierarchical models, we develop ActPerFL, a self-aware personalized FL method where each client can automatically balance the training of its local personal model and the global model that implicitly contributes to other clients’ training. Such a balance is derived from the inter-client and intra-client uncertainty quantification. Consequently, ActPerFL can adapt to the underlying clients’ heterogeneity with uncertainty-driven local training and model aggregation. With experimental studies on Sent140 and Amazon Alexa audio data, we show that ActPerFL can achieve superior personalization performance compared with the existing counterparts.

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Federated Learning with Noisy User Feedback
Rahul Sharma | Anil Ramakrishna | Ansel MacLaughlin | Anna Rumshisky | Jimit Majmudar | Clement Chung | Salman Avestimehr | Rahul Gupta
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Machine Learning (ML) systems are getting increasingly popular, and drive more and more applications and services in our daily life. Thishas led to growing concerns over user privacy, since human interaction data typically needs to be transmitted to the cloud in order to trainand improve such systems. Federated learning (FL) has recently emerged as a method for training ML models on edge devices using sensitive user data and is seen as a way to mitigate concerns over data privacy. However, since ML models are most commonly trained with label supervision, we need a way to extract labels on edge to make FL viable. In this work, we propose a strategy for training FL models using positive and negative user feedback. We also design a novel framework to study different noise patterns in user feedback, and explore how well standard noise-robust objectives can help mitigate this noise when training models in a federated setting. We evaluate our proposed training setup through detailed experiments on two text classification datasets and analyze the effects of varying levels of user reliability and feedback noise on model performance. We show that our method improves substantially over a self-training baseline, achieving performance closer to models trained with full supervision.