Ensemble Attention Distillation for Privacy-Preserving Federated Learning

Xuan Gong, Abhishek Sharma, Srikrishna Karanam, Ziyan Wu, Terrence Chen, David Doermann, Arun Innanje; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2021, pp. 15076-15086


We consider the problem of Federated Learning (FL) where numerous decentralized computational nodes collaborate with each other to train a centralized machine learning model without explicitly sharing their local data samples. Such decentralized training naturally leads to issues of imbalanced or differing data distributions among the local models and challenges in fusing them into a central model. Existing FL methods deal with these issues by either sharing local parameters or fusing models via online distillation. However, such a design leads to multiple rounds of inter-node communication resulting in substantial bandwidth consumption, while also increasing the risk of data leakage and consequent privacy issues. To address these problems, we propose a new distillation-based FL framework that can preserve privacy by design, while also consuming substantially less network communication resources when compared to the current state-of-the-art. Our framework engages in inter-node communication using only publicly available and approved datasets, thereby giving explicit privacy control to the user. To distill knowledge among the various local models, our framework involves a novel ensemble distillation algorithm that uses both final prediction as well as model attention. This algorithm explicitly considers the diversity among various local nodes while also seeking consensus among them. This results in a comprehensive technique to distill knowledge from various decentralized nodes. We demonstrate the various aspects and the associated benefits of our FL framework through extensive experiments that produce state-of-the-art results on both classification and segmentation tasks on natural and medical images.

Related Material

@InProceedings{Gong_2021_ICCV, author = {Gong, Xuan and Sharma, Abhishek and Karanam, Srikrishna and Wu, Ziyan and Chen, Terrence and Doermann, David and Innanje, Arun}, title = {Ensemble Attention Distillation for Privacy-Preserving Federated Learning}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)}, month = {October}, year = {2021}, pages = {15076-15086} }