Human activity recognition (HAR) based on mobile sensors plays an important role in ubiquitous computing. However, the rise of data regulatory constraints precludes collecting private and labeled signal data from personal devices at scale. Federated learning has emerged as a decentralized alternative solution to model training, which iteratively aggregates locally updated models into a shared global model, therefore being able to leverage decentralized, private data without central collection. However, the effectiveness of federated learning for HAR is affected by the fact that each user has different activity types and even a different signal distribution for the same activity type. Furthermore, it is uncertain if a single global model trained can generalize well to individual users or new users with heterogeneous data. In this paper, we propose Meta-HAR, a federated representation learning framework, in which a signal embedding network is meta-learned in a federated manner, while the learned signal representations are further fed into a personalized classification network at each user for activity prediction. In order to boost the representation ability of the embedding network, we treat the HAR problem at each user as a different task and train the shared embedding network through a Model-Agnostic Meta-learning framework, such that the embedding network can generalize to any individual user. Personalization is further achieved on top of the robustly learned representations in an adaptation procedure. We conducted extensive experiments based on two publicly available HAR datasets as well as a newly created HAR dataset. Results verify that Meta-HAR is effective at maintaining high test accuracies for individual users, including new users, and significantly outperforms several baselines, including Federated Averaging, Reptile and even centralized learning in certain cases.
Distributed machine learning has been widely studied in the literature to scale up machine learning model training in the presence of an ever-increasing amount of data. We study distributed machine learning from another perspective, where the information about the training same samples are inherently decentralized and located on different parities. We propose an asynchronous stochastic gradient descent (SGD) algorithm for such a feature distributed machine learning (FDML) problem, to jointly learn from decentralized features, with theoretical convergence guarantees under bounded asynchrony. Our algorithm does not require sharing the original feature data or even local model parameters between parties, thus preserving a high level of data confidentiality. We implement our algorithm for FDML in a parameter server architecture. We compare our system with fully centralized training (which violates data locality requirements) and training only based on local features, through extensive experiments performed on a large amount of data from a real-world application, involving 5 million samples and $8700$ features in total. Experimental results have demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed FDML system.