PhD Position F/M Fairness in Federated Learning



October 31, 2022


2022-05297 - PhD Position F/M Fairness in Federated Learning

Contract type : Fixed-term contract

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : PhD Position

Level of experience : Recently graduated

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research Centre was founded in 2008 and employs a staff of 360, including 300 scientists working in fifteen research teams. Recognised for its outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development of the Hauts-De-France région, the Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research Centre undertakes research in the field of computer science in collaboration with a range of academic, institutional and industrial partners.

The strategy of the Centre is to develop an internationally renowned centre of excellence with a significant impact on the City of Lille and its surrounding area. It works to achieve this by pursuing a range of ambitious research projects in such fields of computer science as the intelligence of data and adaptive software systems. Building on the synergies between research and industry, Inria is a major contributor to skills and technology transfer in the field of computer science.


The selected PhD student will be mainly based in Lille in the MAGNET team but will also frequently visit the COMETE team. The main objective of the COMETE team is to develop principled approaches to privacy protection to guide the design of sanitization mechanisms in realistic scenarios. Similarly, the main objective of the MAGNET team is to develop ethically acceptable machine learning algorithms focusing on privacy, federated learning, and fairness and to empower end users of artificial intelligence.

Moreover, the position is part of FedMalin, a large-scale research initiative involving 10 Inria teams across 6 different Inria centers, 22 researchers, 16 PhD students (6 to be hired), 5 postdocs (3 to be hired) and 7 engineers (6 to be hired). The recruited person will have the opportunity to collaborate with other participants of this initiative and take advantage of the scientific emulation it will create.

The PhD candidate will be under the supervision of Aurélien Bellet, who has been working on federated machine learning for several years, Catuscia Palamidessi, who is a specialist in privacy preserving and fair machine learning, and Michaël Perrot, whose main research focus is on the problem of fair machine learning.


Machine Learning is now used in digital assistants, for medical diagnosis, for autonomous vehicles, .... Its success can be explained by the good performances of learned models, sometimes reaching human-level capabilities. However, simply being accurate is not sufficient if these models are to be largely deployed and the notion of fairness, and more largely of trustworthiness, has to be considered as soon as humans are involved in the loop. For example, a model used for medical diagnosis or an automated hiring process should not be biased against subgroups of the population. A recent trend in Machine Learning is thus to propose approaches to learn models that are as accurate as possible while satisfying some level of fairness, that is that do not unjustly discriminate against some individuals or subgroups of the population.

Most Machine Learning algorithms were developed in environments where the data can be centralized and easily accessed. However, in many use-cases, data is naturally decentralized and should not be publicly disclosed. For example, medical data is collected and stored by different hospitals or crowdsensed data is generated by personal devices. This raises new challenges and, in this context, Federated Learning emerged as a paradigm where a set of entities with local datasets collaborate to collectively learn models without explicitly sharing their data. The main objective being to reach levels of utility on par with the centralized setting where all the data is owned by a single entity.

While fairness has been widely studied in the centralized setting, the decentralized nature of the data in Federated Learning raises new challenges. For example, the fairness level of the models becomes difficult to measure as each data holding entity only has a partial view of the world. Similarly, as the different entities collaborate, they expect fair rewards that are proportional to their implication. The goal of this PhD is to study fairness in Federated Learning from both a theoretical and an applied point of view. It involves formally understanding the various trade-offs that may arise due to decentralization and proposing sound algorithms able to learn models that are guaranteed to be fair.

Main activities
  • Review and follow the existing literature on Fairness and Federated Learning.
  • Theoretically and empirically study the Fairness trade-offs inherent to Federated Learning and related to the decentralized nature of the data.
  • Propose concrete approaches to measure and enforce various notions of Fairness in Federated Learning, and validate them on real datasets.
  • Publish and present results in top machine learning conferences and journals.
  • Skills

    A good candidate will have the following skills:

  • A good command of English
  • A strong background in mathematics
  • A good knowledge of machine learning, statistics and algorithms
  • Some experience with implementation and experimentation
  • Preferably some knowledge on either fairness or federated learning (or both)
  • Please follow the instructions given in https: // apply/ to set up your application file.

    Benefits package
  • Subsidized meals
  • Partial reimbursement of public transport costs
  • Leave: 7 weeks of annual leave + 10 extra days off due to RTT (statutory reduction in working hours) + possibility of exceptional leave (sick children, moving home, etc.)
  • Possibility of teleworking and flexible organization of working hours
  • Professional equipment available (videoconferencing, loan of computer equipment, etc.)
  • Social, cultural and sports events and activities
  • Access to vocational training
  • Social security coverage
  • Remuneration

    1st and 2nd year : 2051 € Gross monthly salary (before taxes)

    3rd year : 2158 € gross monthly salary (before taxes)

    General Information
  • Theme/Domain : Optimization, machine learning and statistical methods Statistics (Big data) (BAP E)

  • Town/city : Villeneuve d'Ascq

  • Inria Center : CRI Lille - Nord Europe
  • Starting date : 2023-04-01
  • Duration of contract : 3 years
  • Deadline to apply : 2022-10-31
  • Contacts
  • Inria Team : MAGNET
  • PhD Supervisor : Perrot Michael /
  • The keys to success

    A successful candidate will

  • Collaborate in the team and where applicable with external researchers and engineers
  • Organize work efficiently and make a good balance between the several priorities
  • Report regularly
  • About Inria

    Inria is the French national research institute dedicated to digital science and technology. It employs 2,600 people. Its 200 agile project teams, generally run jointly with academic partners, include more than 3,500 scientists and engineers working to meet the challenges of digital technology, often at the interface with other disciplines. The Institute also employs numerous talents in over forty different professions. 900 research support staff contribute to the preparation and development of scientific and entrepreneurial projects that have a worldwide impact.

    Instruction to apply

    Defence Security : This position is likely to be situated in a restricted area (ZRR), as defined in Decree No. 2011-1425 relating to the protection of national scientific and technical potential (PPST).Authorisation to enter an area is granted by the director of the unit, following a favourable Ministerial decision, as defined in the decree of 3 July 2012 relating to the PPST. An unfavourable Ministerial decision in respect of a position situated in a ZRR would result in the cancellation of the appointment.

    Recruitment Policy : As part of its diversity policy, all Inria positions are accessible to people with disabilities.

    Warning : you must enter your e-mail address in order to save your application to Inria. Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website. Processing of applications sent from other channels is not guaranteed.

    Similar Jobs


    France Sep 2, 2022

    Add to favorites

    PhD Position F/M Game Theoretical aspects of Incomplete Information in Machine Learning

    2022-05329 - PhD Position F/M Game Theoretical aspects of Incomplete Information in Machine Learning About the research centre or Inria department The Inria Université Côte d'Azur center counts 36 research teams as well as 7...


    France Sep 6, 2022

    Add to favorites

    PhD Position F/M AI for Arrhythmia Prediction

    2022-05324 - PhD Position F/M AI for Arrhythmia Prediction About the research centre or Inria department The Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée center counts 34 research teams as The center's staff (about 500 people including...

    Chalmers University of Technology

    Sweden Sep 11, 2022

    Add to favorites

    PhD Student Position in Machine Learning: Causality & Efficiency

    The data science and AI division at CSE is recruiting a PhD student in machine learning for a project on the efficient generalization using causality and inference and learning using auxiliary information to improve the...


    France Sep 17, 2022

    Add to favorites

    PhD Position F/M PhD Position: Understanding Linux scheduling bottlenecks

    2022-05378 - PhD Position F/M PhD Position: Understanding Linux scheduling About the research centre or Inria department position is part of a research project in operating systems being carried out in the {Whisper} and {WIDE}...