Andres Munoz Medina

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    Preview abstract New regulations and increased awareness of data privacy have led to the deployment of new and more efficient differentially private mechanisms across public institutions and industries. Ensuring the correctness of these mechanisms is therefore crucial to ensure the proper protection of data. However, since differential privacy is a property of the mechanism itself, and not of an individual output, testing whether a mechanism is differentially private is not a trivial task. While ad hoc testing techniques exist under specific assumptions, no concerted effort has been made by the research community to develop a flexible and extendable tool for testing differentially private mechanisms. This paper introduces DP-Auditorium as a step advancing research in this direction. DP-Auditorium abstracts the problem of testing differential privacy into two steps: (1) measuring the distance between distributions, and (2) finding neighboring datasets where a mechanism generates output distributions maximizing such distance. From a technical point of view, we propose three new algorithms for evaluating the distance between distributions. While these algorithms are well-established in the statistics community, we provide new estimation guarantees that exploit the fact that we are only interested in verifying whether a mechanism is differentially private, and not in obtaining an exact estimate of the distance between two distributions. DP-Auditorium is easily extensible, as demonstrated in this paper by implementing a well-known approximate differential privacy testing algorithm into our library. We provide an extensive comparison to date of multiple testers across varying sample sizes and differential privacy parameters, demonstrating that there is no single tester that dominates all others, and that a combination of different techniques is required to ensure proper testing of mechanisms. View details
    Preview abstract The streaming model of computation is a popular approach for working with large-scale data. In this setting, there is a stream of items and the goal is to compute the desired quantities (usually data statistics) while making a single pass through the stream and using as little space as possible. Motivated by the importance of data privacy, we develop differentially private streaming algorithms under the continual release setting, where the union of outputs of the algorithm at every timestamp must be differentially private. Specifically, we study the fundamental $\ell_p$ $(p\in [0,+\infty))$ frequency moment estimation problem under this setting, and give an $\varepsilon$-DP algorithm that achieves $(1+\eta)$-relative approximation $(\forall \eta\in(0,1))$ with $\mathrm{poly}\log(Tn)$ additive error and uses $\mathrm{poly}\log(Tn)\cdot \max(1, n^{1-2/p})$ space, where $T$ is the length of the stream and $n$ is the size of the universe of elements. Our space is near optimal up to poly-logarithmic factors even in the non-private setting. To obtain our results, we first reduce several primitives under the differentially private continual release model, such as counting distinct elements, heavy hitters and counting low frequency elements, to the simpler, counting/summing problems in the same setting. Based on these primitives, we develop a differentially private continual release level set estimation approach to address the $\ell_p$ frequency moment estimation problem. We also provide a simple extension of our results to the harder sliding window model, where the statistics must be maintained over the past $W$ data items. View details
    Easy Learning from Label Proportions
    Robert Busa-Fekete
    Travis Dick
    Heejin Choi
    Neurips(2023)
    Preview abstract We present a novel way of training models in theweakly supervised setup of learning frombagsof examples with just aggregate label informa-tion. Unlike previous work, we focus on learninga classifier that can produce accurate predictionsat an individual instance level as opposed to simply matching a bag’s label proportion. The mainstrength of our algorithm lies on the simplicity ofits implementation. We demonstrate that a simplemodification to the loss function can yield accu-rate event level estimates. Moreover we show thatthe sample complexity of doing empirical riskminimization or stochastic gradient descent withlabel proportions increases only by a factor of √k compared to traditional supervised learning sce-narios. Finally, we validate our theoretical resultson multiple datasets and demonstrate that our pro-posed algorithm beats provides state of the artperformance for learning with label proportions. View details
    Preview abstract We study differentially private mechanisms for sharing training data in machine learning settings. Our goal is to enable learning of an accurate predictive model while protecting the privacy of each user’s label. Previous work established privacy guarantees that assumed the features are public and given exogenously, a setting known as label differential privacy. In some scenarios, this can be a strong assumption that removes the interplay between features and labels from the privacy analysis. We relax this approach and instead assume the features are drawn from a distribution that depends on the private labels. We first show that simply adding noise to the label, as in previous work, can lead to an arbitrarily weak privacy guarantee, and also present methods for estimating this privacy loss from data. We then present a new mechanism that replaces some training examples with synthetically generated data, and show that our mechanism has a much better privacy-utility tradeoff if the synthetic data is realistic, in a certain quantifiable sense. Finally, we empirically validate our theoretical analysis. View details
    Preview abstract Compact user representations (such as embeddings) form the backbone of personalization services. In this work, we present a new theoretical framework to measure re-identification risk in such user representations. Our framework, based on hypothesis testing, formally bounds the probability that an attacker may be able to obtain the identity of a user from their representation. As an application, we show how our framework is general enough to model important real-world applications such as the Chrome's Topics API for interest-based advertising. We complement our theoretical bounds by showing provably good attack algorithms for re-identification that we use to estimate the re-identification risk in the Topics API. We believe this work provides a rigorous and interpretable notion of re-identification risk and a framework to measure it that can be used to inform real-world applications. View details
    Preview abstract Modern statistical estimation is often performed in a distributed setting where each sample belongs to a single user who shares their data with a central server. Users are typically concerned with preserving the privacy of their samples, and also with minimizing the amount of data they must transmit to the server. We give improved private and communication-efficient algorithms for estimating several popular measures of the entropy of a distribution. All of our algorithms have constant communication cost and satisfy local differential privacy. For a joint distribution over many variables whose conditional independence is given by a tree, we describe algorithms for estimating Shannon entropy that require a number of samples that is linear in the number of variables, compared to the quadratic sample complexity of prior work. We also describe an algorithm for estimating Gini entropy whose sample complexity has no dependence on the support size of the distribution and can be implemented using a single round of concurrent communication between the users and the server. In contrast, the previously best-known algorithm has high communication cost and requires the server to facilitate interaction between the users. Finally, we describe an algorithm for estimating collision entropy that generalizes the best known algorithm to the private and communication-efficient setting. View details
    Preview abstract We study the private $k$-median and $k$-means clustering problem in $d$ dimensional Euclidean space. By leveraging tree embeddings, we give an efficient and easy to implement algorithm, that is empirically competitive with state of the art non private methods. We prove that our method computes a solution with cost at most $O(d^{3/2}\log n)\cdot OPT + O(k d^2 \log^2 n / \epsilon^2)$, where $\epsilon$ is the privacy guarantee. (The dimension term, $d$, can be replaced with $O(\log k)$ using standard dimension reduction techniques.) Although the worst-case guarantee is worse than that of state of the art private clustering methods, the algorithm we propose is practical, runs in near-linear, $\tilde{O}(nkd)$, time and scales to tens of millions of points. We also show that our method is amenable to parallelization in large-scale distributed computing environments. In particular we show that our private algorithms can be implemented in logarithmic number of MPC rounds in the sublinear memory regime. Finally, we complement our theoretical analysis with an empirical evaluation demonstrating the algorithm's efficiency and accuracy in comparison to other privacy clustering baselines. View details
    A Joint Exponential Mechanism for Differentially Private Top-k
    Jenny Gillenwater
    Monica Ribero Diaz
    International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) 2022
    Preview abstract We present a differentially private algorithm for releasing the sequence of $k$ elements with the highest counts from a data domain of $d$ elements. The algorithm is a ``joint'' instance of the exponential mechanism, and its output space consists of all $O(d^k)$ length-$k$ sequences. Our main contribution is a method to sample this exponential mechanism in time $O(dk\log(k) + d\log(d))$ and space $O(dk)$. Experiments show that this approach outperforms existing pure differentially private methods and often improves upon even approximate differentially private methods for moderate $k$. View details
    Preview abstract We study the problem of differentially private optimization with linear constraints when the right-hand side of the constraints depends on private data. This type of problem appears in many applications, especially resource allocation. Previous research provided solutions that retained privacy but sometimes violated the constraints. In many settings, however, the constraints cannot be violated under any circumstances. To address this hard requirement, we present an algorithm that releases a nearly-optimal solution satisfying the constraints with probability 1. We also prove a lower bound demonstrating that the difference between the objective value of our algorithm’s solution and the optimal solution is tight up to logarithmic factors among all differentially private algorithms. We conclude with experiments demonstrating that our algorithm can achieve nearly optimal performance while preserving privacy. View details
    Preview abstract Differentially private learning algorithms protect individual participants in the training dataset by guaranteeing that their presence does not significantly change the resulting model. In order to make this promise, such algorithms need to know the maximum contribution that can be made by a single user: the more data an individual can contribute, the more noise will need to be added to protect them. While most existing analyses assume that the maximum contribution is known and fixed in advance—indeed, it is often assumed that each user contributes only a single example— we argue that in practice there is a meaningful choice to be made. On the one hand, if we allow users to contribute large amounts of data, we may end up adding excessive noise to protect a few outliers, even when the majority contribute only modestly. On the other hand, limiting users to small contributions keeps noise levels low at the cost of potentially discarding significant amounts of excess data, thus introducing bias. Here, we characterize this trade-off for an empirical risk minimization setting, showing that in general there is a “sweet spot” that depends on measurable properties of the dataset, but that there is also a concrete cost to privacy that cannot be avoided simply by collecting more data. View details