Improved Communication Efficiency in Federated Natural Policy Gradient via ADMM-based Gradient Updates

Guangchen Lan, Han Wang, James Anderson, Christopher Brinton, Vaneet Aggarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Federated reinforcement learning (FedRL) enables agents to collaboratively train a global policy without sharing their individual data. However, high communication overhead remains a critical bottleneck, particularly for natural policy gradient (NPG) methods, which are second-order. To address this issue, we propose the FedNPG-ADMM framework, which leverages the alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM) to approximate global NPG directions efficiently. We theoretically demonstrate that using ADMM-based gradient updates reduces communication complexity from O(d2) to O(d) at each iteration, where dis the number of model parameters. Furthermore, we show that achieving an ϵ-error stationary convergence requires (Equation presented) iterations for discount factor γ, demonstrating that FedNPG-ADMM maintains the same convergence rate as the standard FedNPG. Through evaluation of the proposed algorithms in MuJoCo environments, we demonstrate that FedNPG-ADMM maintains the reward performance of standard FedNPG, and that its convergence rate improves when the number of federated agents increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes
Event37th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2023 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Dec 10 2023Dec 16 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing


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