Fed-GraB: Federated Long-tailed Learning with Self-Adjusting Gradient Balancer

Zikai Xiao · Zihan Chen · Songshang Liu · Hualiang Wang · YANG FENG · Jin Hao · Joey Tianyi Zhou · Jian Wu · Howard Yang · Zuozhu Liu

Abstract: Data privacy and long-tailed distribution are the norms rather than the exception in many real-world tasks. This paper investigates a federated long-tailed learning (Fed-LT) task in which each client holds a locally heterogeneous dataset; if the datasets can be globally aggregated, they jointly exhibit a long-tailed distribution. Under such a setting, existing federated optimization and/or centralized long-tailed learning methods hardly apply due to challenges in (a) characterizing the global long-tailed distribution under privacy constraints and (b) adjusting the local learning strategy to cope with the head-tail imbalance. In response, we propose a method termed $\texttt{Fed-GraB}$, comprised of a Self-adjusting Gradient Balancer (SGB) module that re-weights clients' gradients in a closed-loop manner, based on the feedback of global long-tailed distribution evaluated by a Direct Prior Analyzer (DPA) module. Using $\texttt{Fed-GraB}$, clients can effectively alleviate the distribution drift caused by data heterogeneity during the model training process and obtain a global model with better performance on the minority classes while maintaining the performance of the majority classes. Extensive experiments demonstrate that $\texttt{Fed-GraB}$ achieves state-of-the-art performance on representative datasets such as CIFAR-10-LT, CIFAR-100-LT, ImageNet-LT, and iNaturalist.

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