Fine-Grained Theoretical Analysis of Federated Zeroth-Order Optimization

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

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Jun Chen, Hong Chen, Bin Gu, Hao Deng


Federated zeroth-order optimization (FedZO) algorithm enjoys the advantages of both zeroth-order optimization and federated learning, and has shown exceptional performance on black-box attack and softmax regression tasks. However, there is no generalization analysis for FedZO, and its analysis on computing convergence rate is slower than the corresponding first-order optimization setting. This paper aims to establish systematic theoretical assessments of FedZO by developing the analysis technique of on-average model stability. We establish the first generalization error bound of FedZO under the Lipschitz continuity and smoothness conditions. Then, refined generalization and optimization bounds are provided by replacing bounded gradient with heavy-tailed gradient noise and utilizing the second-order Taylor expansion for gradient approximation. With the help of a new error decomposition strategy, our theoretical analysis is also extended to the asynchronous case. For FedZO, our fine-grained analysis fills the theoretical gap on the generalization guarantees and polishes the convergence characterization of the computing algorithm.