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Profile-Based Privacy for Locally Private Computations

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Differential privacy has emerged as a gold standard in privacy-preserving data analysis. A popular variant is local differential privacy, where the data holder is the trusted curator. A major barrier, however, towards a wider adoption of this model is that it offers a poor privacy-utility tradeoff. In this work, we address this problem by introducing a new variant of local privacy called profile-based privacy. The central idea is that the problem setting comes with a graph G of data generating distributions, whose edges encode sensitive pairs of distributions that should be made indistinguishable. This provides higher utility because unlike local differential privacy, we no longer need to make every pair of private values in the domain indistinguishable, and instead only protect the identity of the underlying distribution. We establish privacy properties of the profile-based privacy definition, such as post-processing invariance and graceful composition. Finally, we provide mechanisms that are private in this framework, and show via simulations that they achieve higher utility than the corresponding local differential privacy mechanisms.


The Cost of Privacy: Optimal Rates of Convergence for Parameter Estimation with Differential Privacy

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Privacy-preserving data analysis is a rising challenge in contemporary statistics, as the privacy guarantees of statistical methods are often achieved at the expense of accuracy. In this paper, we investigate the tradeoff between statistical accuracy and privacy in mean estimation and linear regression, under both the classical low-dimensional and modern high-dimensional settings. A primary focus is to establish minimax optimality for statistical estimation with the $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-differential privacy constraint. To this end, we find that classical lower bound arguments fail to yield sharp results, and new technical tools are called for. We first develop a general lower bound argument for estimation problems with differential privacy constraints, and then apply the lower bound argument to mean estimation and linear regression. For these statistical problems, we also design computationally efficient algorithms that match the minimax lower bound up to a logarithmic factor. In particular, for the high-dimensional linear regression, a novel private iterative hard thresholding pursuit algorithm is proposed, based on a privately truncated version of stochastic gradient descent. The numerical performance of these algorithms is demonstrated by simulation studies and applications to real data containing sensitive information, for which privacy-preserving statistical methods are necessary.


Information Extraction Under Privacy Constraints

arXiv.org Machine Learning

A privacy-constrained information extraction problem is considered where for a pair of correlated discrete random variables $(X,Y)$ governed by a given joint distribution, an agent observes $Y$ and wants to convey to a potentially public user as much information about $Y$ as possible without compromising the amount of information revealed about $X$. To this end, the so-called {\em rate-privacy function} is introduced to quantify the maximal amount of information (measured in terms of mutual information) that can be extracted from $Y$ under a privacy constraint between $X$ and the extracted information, where privacy is measured using either mutual information or maximal correlation. Properties of the rate-privacy function are analyzed and information-theoretic and estimation-theoretic interpretations of it are presented for both the mutual information and maximal correlation privacy measures. It is also shown that the rate-privacy function admits a closed-form expression for a large family of joint distributions of $(X,Y)$. Finally, the rate-privacy function under the mutual information privacy measure is considered for the case where $(X,Y)$ has a joint probability density function by studying the problem where the extracted information is a uniform quantization of $Y$ corrupted by additive Gaussian noise. The asymptotic behavior of the rate-privacy function is studied as the quantization resolution grows without bound and it is observed that not all of the properties of the rate-privacy function carry over from the discrete to the continuous case.


Utilitarian Approach to Privacy in Distributed Constraint Optimization Problems

AAAI Conferences

Privacy has been a major motivation for distributed problem optimization. However, even though several methods have been proposed to evaluate it, none of them is widely used. The Distributed Constraint Optimization Problem (DCOP) is a fundamental model used to approach various families of distributed problems. Here we approach the problem by letting both the optimized costs found in DCOPs and the privacy requirements guide the agents' exploration of the search space. We introduce Utilitarian Distributed Constraint Optimization Problem (UDCOP) where the costs and the privacy requirements are used as parameters to a heuristic modifying the search process. Common stochastic algorithms for decentralized constraint optimization problems are evaluated here according to how well they preserve privacy.


Accuracy First: Selecting a Differential Privacy Level for Accuracy Constrained ERM

Neural Information Processing Systems

Traditional approaches to differential privacy assume a fixed privacy requirement ε for a computation, and attempt to maximize the accuracy of the computation subject to the privacy constraint. As differential privacy is increasingly deployed in practical settings, it may often be that there is instead a fixed accuracy requirement for a given computation and the data analyst would like to maximize the privacy of the computation subject to the accuracy constraint. This raises the question of how to find and run a maximally private empirical risk minimizer subject to a given accuracy requirement. We propose a general "noise reduction" framework that can apply to a variety of private empirical risk minimization (ERM) algorithms, using them to "search" the space of privacy levels to find the empirically strongest one that meets the accuracy constraint, and incurring only logarithmic overhead in the number of privacy levels searched. The privacy analysis of our algorithm leads naturally to a version of differential privacy where the privacy parameters are dependent on the data, which we term ex-post privacy, and which is related to the recently introduced notion of privacy odometers.