Google Research

On the Round Complexity of the Shuffle Model

TCC 2020


The shuffle model of differential privacy was proposed as a viable model for performing distributed differentially private computations. Informally, the model consists of an untrusted analyzer that receives messages sent by participating parties via a shuffle functionality, the latter potentially disassociates messages from their senders. Prior work focused on one-round differentially private shuffle model protocols, demonstrating that functionalities such as addition and histograms can be performed in this model with accuracy levels similar to that of the curator model of differential privacy, where the computation is performed by a fully trusted party.

Focusing on the round complexity of the shuffle model, we ask in this work what can be computed in the shuffle model of differential privacy with two rounds. Ishai et al. [FOCS 2006] showed how to use one round of the shuffle to establish secret keys between every two parties. Using this primitive to simulate a general secure multi-party protocol increases its round complexity by one. We show how two parties can use one round of the shuffle to send secret messages without having to first establish a secret key, hence retaining round complexity. Combining this primitive with the two-round semi-honest protocol of Applebaum et al. [TCC 2018], we obtain that every randomized functionality can be computed in the shuffle model with an honest majority, in merely two rounds. This includes any differentially private computation. We then move to examine differentially private computations in the shuffle model that (i) do not require the assumption of an honest majority, or (ii) do not admit one-round protocols, even with an honest majority. For that, we introduce two computational tasks: the common-element problem and the nested-common-element problem, for which we show separations between one-round and two-round protocols.

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