As a novel distributed learning paradigm, federated learning (FL) faces serious challenges in dealing with massive clients with heterogeneous data distribution and computation and communication resources. Various client-variance-reduction schemes and client sampling strategies have been respectively introduced to improve the robustness of FL. Among others, primal-dual algorithms such as the alternating direction of method multipliers (ADMM) have been found being resilient to data distribution and outperform most of the primal-only FL algorithms. However, the reason behind remains a mystery still. In this paper, we firstly reveal the fact that the federated ADMM is essentially a client-variance-reduced algorithm. While this explains the inherent robustness of federated ADMM, the vanilla version of it lacks the ability to be adaptive to the degree of client heterogeneity. Besides, the global model at the server under client sampling is biased which slows down the practical convergence. To go beyond ADMM, we propose a novel primal-dual FL algorithm, termed FedVRA, that allows one to adaptively control the variance-reduction level and biasness of the global model. In addition, FedVRA unifies several representative FL algorithms in the sense that they are either special instances of FedVRA or are close to it. Extensions of FedVRA to semi/un-supervised learning are also presented. Experiments based on (semi-)supervised image classification tasks demonstrate superiority of FedVRA over the existing schemes in learning scenarios with massive heterogeneous clients and client sampling.
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