Epidemic Learning: Boosting Decentralized Learning with Randomized Communication

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Martijn De Vos, Sadegh Farhadkhani, Rachid Guerraoui, Anne-marie Kermarrec, Rafael Pires, Rishi Sharma


We present Epidemic Learning (EL), a simple yet powerful decentralized learning (DL) algorithm that leverages changing communication topologies to achieve faster model convergence compared to conventional DL approaches. At each round of EL, each node sends its model updates to a random sample of $s$ other nodes (in a system of $n$ nodes). We provide an extensive theoretical analysis of EL, demonstrating that its changing topology culminates in superior convergence properties compared to the state-of-the-art (static and dynamic) topologies. Considering smooth non-convex loss functions, the number of transient iterations for EL, i.e., the rounds required to achieve asymptotic linear speedup, is in $O(n^3/s^2)$ which outperforms the best-known bound $O(n^3)$ by a factor of $s^2$, indicating the benefit of randomized communication for DL. We empirically evaluate EL in a 96-node network and compare its performance with state-of-the-art DL approaches. Our results illustrate that EL converges up to $ 1.7\times$ quicker than baseline DL algorithms and attains $2.2 $\% higher accuracy for the same communication volume.