Hierarchical Channel-spatial Encoding for Communication-efficient Collaborative Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Qihua ZHOU, Song Guo, YI LIU, Jie ZHANG, Jiewei Zhang, Tao GUO, Zhenda XU, Xun Liu, Zhihao Qu


It witnesses that the collaborative learning (CL) systems often face the performance bottleneck of limited bandwidth, where multiple low-end devices continuously generate data and transmit intermediate features to the cloud for incremental training. To this end, improving the communication efficiency by reducing traffic size is one of the most crucial issues for realistic deployment. Existing systems mostly compress features at pixel level and ignore the characteristics of feature structure, which could be further exploited for more efficient compression. In this paper, we take new insights into implementing scalable CL systems through a hierarchical compression on features, termed Stripe-wise Group Quantization (SGQ). Different from previous unstructured quantization methods, SGQ captures both channel and spatial similarity in pixels, and simultaneously encodes features in these two levels to gain a much higher compression ratio. In particular, we refactor feature structure based on inter-channel similarity and bound the gradient deviation caused by quantization, in forward and backward passes, respectively. Such a double-stage pipeline makes SGQ hold a sublinear convergence order as the vanilla SGD-based optimization. Extensive experiments show that SGQ achieves a higher traffic reduction ratio by up to 15.97 times and provides 9.22 times image processing speedup over the uniform quantized training, while preserving adequate model accuracy as FP32 does, even using 4-bit quantization. This verifies that SGQ can be applied to a wide spectrum of edge intelligence applications.