Private Everlasting Prediction

Moni Naor
Kobbi Nissim
Chao Yan
NeurIPS 2023


A private learner is trained on a sample of labeled points and generates a hypothesis that can be used for predicting the labels of newly sampled points while protecting the privacy of the training set [Kasiviswannathan et al., FOCS 2008]. Research uncovered that private learners may need to exhibit significantly higher sample complexity than non-private learners as is the case with, e.g., learning of one-dimensional threshold functions [Bun et al., FOCS 2015, Alon et al., STOC 2019]. We explore prediction as an alternative to learning. Instead of putting forward a hypothesis, a predictor answers a stream of classification queries. Earlier work has considered a private prediction model with just a single classification query [Dwork and Feldman, COLT 2018]. We observe that when answering a stream of queries, a predictor must modify the hypothesis it uses over time, and, furthermore, that it must use the queries for this modification, hence introducing potential privacy risks with respect to the queries themselves. We introduce private everlasting prediction taking into account the privacy of both the training set and the (adaptively chosen) queries made to the predictor. We then present a generic construction of private everlasting predictors in the PAC model. The sample complexity of the initial training sample in our construction is quadratic (up to polylog factors) in the VC dimension of the concept class. Our construction allows prediction for all concept classes with finite VC dimension, and in particular threshold functions with constant size initial training sample, even when considered over infinite domains, whereas it is known that the sample complexity of privately learning threshold functions must grow as a function of the domain size and hence is impossible for infinite domains.