Google Research

Differentially Private Weighted Sampling



Common datasets have the form of elements with keys (e.g., transactions and products) and the goal is to perform analytics on the aggregated form of key and frequency pairs. A weighted sample of keys by (a function of) frequency is a highly versatile summary that provides a sparse set of representative keys and supports approximate evaluations of query statistics. We propose private weighted sampling (PWS): A method that sanitizes a weighted sample as to ensure element-level differential privacy, while retaining its utility to the maximum extent possible. PWS maximizes the reporting probabilities of keys and estimation quality of a broad family of statistics. PWS improves over the state of the art even for the well-studied special case of private histograms, when no sampling is performed. We empirically observe significant performance gains of 20%-300% increase in key reporting for common Zipfian frequency distributions and accurate estimation with X2-8 lower frequencies. PWS is applied as a post-processing of a non-private sample, without requiring the original data. Therefore, it can be a seamless addition to existing implementations, such as those optimizes for distributed or streamed data. We believe that due to practicality and performance, PWS may become a method of choice in applications where privacy is desired.

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