ACL 2023
Conference paper

Federated Learning for Semantic Parsing: Task Formulation, Evaluation Setup, New Algorithms

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This paper studies a new task of federated learning (FL) for semantic parsing, where multiple clients collaboratively train one global model without sharing their semantic parsing data. By leveraging data from multiple clients, the FL paradigm can be especially beneficial for clients that have little training data to develop a data-hungry neural semantic parser on their own. We propose an evaluation setup to study this task, where we re-purpose widely-used single-domain text-to-SQL datasets as clients to form a realistic heterogeneous FL setting and collaboratively train a global model. As standard FL algorithms suffer from the high client heterogeneity in our realistic setup, we further propose a novel LOss Reduction Adjusted Re-weighting (Lorar) mechanism to mitigate the performance degradation, which adjusts each client's contribution to the global model update based on its training loss reduction during each round. Our intuition is that the larger the loss reduction, the further away the current global model is from the client's local optimum, and the larger weight the client should get. By applying Lorar to three widely adopted FL algorithms (FedAvg, FedOPT and FedProx), we observe that their performance can be improved substantially on average (4%-20% absolute gain under MacroAvg) and that clients with smaller datasets enjoy larger performance gains. In addition, the global model converges faster for almost all the clients.



ACL 2023