On Convergence of FedProx: Local Dissimilarity Invariant Bounds, Non-smoothness and Beyond

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

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Xiaotong Yuan, Ping Li


The \FedProx~algorithm is a simple yet powerful distributed proximal point optimization method widely used for federated learning (FL) over heterogeneous data. Despite its popularity and remarkable success witnessed in practice, the theoretical understanding of FedProx is largely underinvestigated: the appealing convergence behavior of \FedProx~is so far characterized under certain non-standard and unrealistic dissimilarity assumptions of local functions, and the results are limited to smooth optimization problems. In order to remedy these deficiencies, we develop a novel local dissimilarity invariant convergence theory for \FedProx~and its minibatch stochastic extension through the lens of algorithmic stability. As a result, we contribute to derive several new and deeper insights into \FedProx~for non-convex federated optimization including: 1) convergence guarantees invariant to certain stringent local dissimilarity conditions; 2) convergence guarantees for non-smooth FL problems; and 3) linear speedup with respect to size of minibatch and number of sampled devices. Our theory for the first time reveals that local dissimilarity and smoothness are not must-have for \FedProx~to get favorable complexity bounds.