Ensemble and continual federated learning for classification tasks.

Federated learning is the state-of-the-art paradigm for training a learning model collaboratively across multiple distributed devices while ensuring data privacy. Under this framework, different algorithms have been developed in recent years and have been successfully applied to real use cases. The vast majority of work in federated learning assumes static datasets and relies on the use of deep neural networks. However, in real-world problems, it is common to have a continual data stream, which may be non-stationary, leading to phenomena such as concept drift. Besides, there are many multi-device applications where other, non-deep strategies are more suitable, due to their simplicity, explainability, or generalizability, among other reasons. In this paper we present Ensemble and Continual Federated Learning, a federated architecture based on ensemble techniques for solving continual classification tasks. We propose the global federated model to be an ensemble, consisting of several independent learners, which are locally trained. Thus, we enable a flexible aggregation of heterogeneous client models, which may differ in size, structure, or even algorithmic family. This ensemble-based approach, together with drift detection and adaptation mechanisms, also allows for continual adaptation in situations where data distribution changes over time. In order to test our proposal and illustrate how it works, we have evaluated it in different tasks related to human activity recognition using smartphones.

keywords: Federated learning, Ensembles, Concept drift, Semi-supervised classification