Subspace based Federated Unlearning

by   Guanghao Li, et al.

Federated learning (FL) enables multiple clients to train a machine learning model collaboratively without exchanging their local data. Federated unlearning is an inverse FL process that aims to remove a specified target client's contribution in FL to satisfy the user's right to be forgotten. Most existing federated unlearning algorithms require the server to store the history of the parameter updates, which is not applicable in scenarios where the server storage resource is constrained. In this paper, we propose a simple-yet-effective subspace based federated unlearning method, dubbed SFU, that lets the global model perform gradient ascent in the orthogonal space of input gradient spaces formed by other clients to eliminate the target client's contribution without requiring additional storage. Specifically, the server first collects the gradients generated from the target client after performing gradient ascent, and the input representation matrix is computed locally by the remaining clients. We also design a differential privacy method to protect the privacy of the representation matrix. Then the server merges those representation matrices to get the input gradient subspace and updates the global model in the orthogonal subspace of the input gradient subspace to complete the forgetting task with minimal model performance degradation. Experiments on MNIST, CIFAR10, and CIFAR100 show that SFU outperforms several state-of-the-art (SOTA) federated unlearning algorithms by a large margin in various settings.


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