ICML 2022
Workshop paper

Federated Unlearning: How to Efficiently Erase a Client in FL?


With privacy legislation empowering users with the right to be forgotten, it has become essential to make a model forget about some of its training data. We explore the problem of removing any client's contribution in federated learning (FL). During FL rounds, each client performs local training to learn a model that minimizes the empirical loss on their private data. We propose to perform unlearning at the client (to be erased) by reversing the learning process, i.e., training a model to \emph{maximize} the local empirical loss. In particular, we formulate the unlearning problem as a constrained maximization problem by restricting to an $\ell_2$-norm ball around a suitably chosen reference model to help retain some knowledge learnt from the other clients' data. This allows the client to use projected gradient descent to perform unlearning. The method does neither requires global access to the data used for training nor the history of the parameter updates to be stored by the aggregator (server) or any of the clients. Experiments on the MNIST dataset show that the proposed unlearning method is efficient and effective.