Spectrum Breathing: Protecting Over-the-Air Federated Learning Against Interference

by   Zhanwei Wang, et al.

Federated Learning (FL) is a widely embraced paradigm for distilling artificial intelligence from distributed mobile data. However, the deployment of FL in mobile networks can be compromised by exposure to interference from neighboring cells or jammers. Existing interference mitigation techniques require multi-cell cooperation or at least interference channel state information, which is expensive in practice. On the other hand, power control that treats interference as noise may not be effective due to limited power budgets, and also that this mechanism can trigger countermeasures by interference sources. As a practical approach for protecting FL against interference, we propose Spectrum Breathing, which cascades stochastic-gradient pruning and spread spectrum to suppress interference without bandwidth expansion. The cost is higher learning latency by exploiting the graceful degradation of learning speed due to pruning. We synchronize the two operations such that their levels are controlled by the same parameter, Breathing Depth. To optimally control the parameter, we develop a martingale-based approach to convergence analysis of Over-the-Air FL with spectrum breathing, termed AirBreathing FL. We show a performance tradeoff between gradient-pruning and interference-induced error as regulated by the breathing depth. Given receive SIR and model size, the optimization of the tradeoff yields two schemes for controlling the breathing depth that can be either fixed or adaptive to channels and the learning process. As shown by experiments, in scenarios where traditional Over-the-Air FL fails to converge in the presence of strong interference, AirBreahing FL with either fixed or adaptive breathing depth can ensure convergence where the adaptive scheme achieves close-to-ideal performance.


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