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Workshop: Socially Responsible Language Modelling Research (SoLaR)

Breaking Physical and Linguistic Borders: Privacy-Preserving Multilingual Prompt Tuning for Low-Resource Languages

Wanru Zhao · Yihong Chen


Pretrained large language models (LLMs) have emerged as a cornerstone in modern natural language processing, with their utility expanding to various applications and languages. However, the fine-tuning of multilingual LLMs, particularly for low-resource languages, is fraught with challenges steming from data-sharing restrictions (the physical border) and from the inherent linguistic differences (the linguistic border). These barriers hinder users of various languages, especially those in low-resource regions, from fully benefiting from the advantages of LLMs.To overcome these challenges, we propose the Federated Prompt Tuning Paradigm for Multilingual Scenarios, which leverages parameter-efficient fine-tuning in a manner that preserves user privacy. We have designed a comprehensive set of experiments and introduced the concept of "language distance" to highlight the strengths of this paradigm: Even under computational constraints, our method not only bolsters data efficiency but also facilitates mutual enhancements across languages, particularly benefiting low-resource ones. Compared to traditional local crosslingual transfer tuning methods, our approach achieves a 6.9\% higher accuracy, reduces the training parameters by over 99\%, and demonstrates stronger cross-lingual generalization. Such findings underscore the potential of our approach to promote social equality, ensure user privacy, and champion linguistic diversity.

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