Faithful Edge Federated Learning: Scalability and Privacy

Meng Zhang*, Ermin Wei, Randall Berry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Federated learning enables machine learning algorithms to be trained over decentralized edge devices without requiring the exchange of local datasets. Successfully deploying federated learning requires ensuring that agents (e.g., mobile devices) faithfully execute the intended algorithm, which has been largely overlooked in the literature. In this study, we first use risk bounds to analyze how the key feature of federated learning, unbalanced and non-i.i.d. data, affects agents' incentives to voluntarily participate and obediently follow traditional federated learning algorithms. To be more specific, our analysis reveals that agents with less typical data distributions and relatively more samples are more likely to opt out of or tamper with federated learning algorithms. To this end, we formulate the first faithful implementation problem of federated learning and design two faithful federated learning mechanisms which satisfy economic properties, scalability, and privacy. First, we design a Faithful Federated Learning (FFL) mechanism which approximates the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) payments via an incremental computation. We show that it achieves (probably approximate) optimality, faithful implementation, voluntary participation, and some other economic properties (such as budget balance). Further, the time complexity in the number of agents K is O((K)). Second, by partitioning agents into several clusters, we present a scalable VCG mechanism approximation. We further design a scalable and Differentially Private FFL (DP-FFL) mechanism, the first differentially private faithful mechanism, that maintains the economic properties. Our DP-FFL mechanism enables one to make three-way performance tradeoffs among privacy, the iterations needed, and payment accuracy loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3790-3804
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Federated learning
  • differential privacy
  • faithful implementation
  • game theory
  • mechanism design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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