We consider the distributionally robust optimization (DRO) problem with spectral risk-based uncertainty set and $f$-divergence penalty. This formulation includes common risk-sensitive learning objectives such as regularized condition value-at-risk (CVaR) and average top-$k$ loss. We present Prospect, a stochastic gradient-based algorithm that only requires tuning a single learning rate hyperparameter, and prove that it enjoys linear convergence for smooth regularized losses. This contrasts with previous algorithms that either require tuning multiple hyperparameters or potentially fail to converge due to biased gradient estimates or inadequate regularization. Empirically, we show that Prospect can converge 2-3$\times$ faster than baselines such as stochastic gradient and stochastic saddle-point methods on distribution shift and fairness benchmarks spanning tabular, vision, and language domains.
Fine-tuning is a common and effective method for tailoring large language models (LLMs) to specialized tasks and applications. In this paper, we study the privacy implications of fine-tuning LLMs on user data. To this end, we define a realistic threat model, called user inference, wherein an attacker infers whether or not a user's data was used for fine-tuning. We implement attacks for this threat model that require only a small set of samples from a user (possibly different from the samples used for training) and black-box access to the fine-tuned LLM. We find that LLMs are susceptible to user inference attacks across a variety of fine-tuning datasets, at times with near perfect attack success rates. Further, we investigate which properties make users vulnerable to user inference, finding that outlier users (i.e. those with data distributions sufficiently different from other users) and users who contribute large quantities of data are most susceptible to attack. Finally, we explore several heuristics for mitigating privacy attacks. We find that interventions in the training algorithm, such as batch or per-example gradient clipping and early stopping fail to prevent user inference. However, limiting the number of fine-tuning samples from a single user can reduce attack effectiveness, albeit at the cost of reducing the total amount of fine-tuning data.
Differentially private learning algorithms inject noise into the learning process. While the most common private learning algorithm, DP-SGD, adds independent Gaussian noise in each iteration, recent work on matrix factorization mechanisms has shown empirically that introducing correlations in the noise can greatly improve their utility. We characterize the asymptotic learning utility for any choice of the correlation function, giving precise analytical bounds for linear regression and as the solution to a convex program for general convex functions. We show, using these bounds, how correlated noise provably improves upon vanilla DP-SGD as a function of problem parameters such as the effective dimension and condition number. Moreover, our analytical expression for the near-optimal correlation function circumvents the cubic complexity of the semi-definite program used to optimize the noise correlation matrix in previous work. We validate our theory with experiments on private deep learning. Our work matches or outperforms prior work while being efficient both in terms of compute and memory.
We introduce a library, Dataset Grouper, to create large-scale group-structured (e.g., federated) datasets, enabling federated learning simulation at the scale of foundation models. This library allows the creation of group-structured versions of existing datasets based on user-specified partitions, and directly leads to a variety of useful heterogeneous datasets that can be plugged into existing software frameworks. Dataset Grouper offers three key advantages. First, it scales to settings where even a single group's dataset is too large to fit in memory. Second, it provides flexibility, both in choosing the base (non-partitioned) dataset and in defining partitions. Finally, it is framework-agnostic. We empirically demonstrate that Dataset Grouper allows for large-scale federated language modeling simulations on datasets that are orders of magnitude larger than in previous work. Our experimental results show that algorithms like FedAvg operate more as meta-learning methods than as empirical risk minimization methods at this scale, suggesting their utility in downstream personalization and task-specific adaptation.
We present a rigorous methodology for auditing differentially private machine learning algorithms by adding multiple carefully designed examples called canaries. We take a first principles approach based on three key components. First, we introduce Lifted Differential Privacy (LiDP) that expands the definition of differential privacy to handle randomized datasets. This gives us the freedom to design randomized canaries. Second, we audit LiDP by trying to distinguish between the model trained with $K$ canaries versus $K - 1$ canaries in the dataset, leaving one canary out. By drawing the canaries i.i.d., LiDP can leverage the symmetry in the design and reuse each privately trained model to run multiple statistical tests, one for each canary. Third, we introduce novel confidence intervals that take advantage of the multiple test statistics by adapting to the empirical higher-order correlations. Together, this new recipe demonstrates significant improvements in sample complexity, both theoretically and empirically, using synthetic and real data. Further, recent advances in designing stronger canaries can be readily incorporated into the new framework.
Gauss-Newton methods and their stochastic version have been widely used in machine learning and signal processing. Their nonsmooth counterparts, modified Gauss-Newton or prox-linear algorithms, can lead to contrasting outcomes when compared to gradient descent in large-scale statistical settings. We explore the contrasting performance of these two classes of algorithms in theory on a stylized statistical example, and experimentally on learning problems including structured prediction. In theory, we delineate the regime where the quadratic convergence of the modified Gauss-Newton method is active under statistical noise. In the experiments, we underline the versatility of stochastic (sub)-gradient descent to minimize nonsmooth composite objectives.
Generative AI has matured to a point where large-scale models can generate text that seems indistinguishable from human-written text and remarkably photorealistic images. Automatically measuring how close the distribution of generated data is to the target real data distribution is a key step in diagnosing existing models and developing better models. We present MAUVE, a family of comparison measures between pairs of distributions such as those encountered in the generative modeling of text or images. These scores are statistical summaries of divergence frontiers capturing two types of errors in generative modeling. We explore four approaches to statistically estimate these scores: vector quantization, non-parametric estimation, classifier-based estimation, and parametric Gaussian approximations. We provide statistical bounds for the vector quantization approach. Empirically, we find that the proposed scores paired with a range of $f$-divergences and statistical estimation methods can quantify the gaps between the distributions of human-written text and those of modern neural language models by correlating with human judgments and identifying known properties of the generated texts. We conclude the paper by demonstrating its applications to other AI domains and discussing practical recommendations.
Spectral risk objectives - also called $L$-risks - allow for learning systems to interpolate between optimizing average-case performance (as in empirical risk minimization) and worst-case performance on a task. We develop stochastic algorithms to optimize these quantities by characterizing their subdifferential and addressing challenges such as biasedness of subgradient estimates and non-smoothness of the objective. We show theoretically and experimentally that out-of-the-box approaches such as stochastic subgradient and dual averaging are hindered by bias and that our approach outperforms them.
Influence diagnostics such as influence functions and approximate maximum influence perturbations are popular in machine learning and in AI domain applications. Influence diagnostics are powerful statistical tools to identify influential datapoints or subsets of datapoints. We establish finite-sample statistical bounds, as well as computational complexity bounds, for influence functions and approximate maximum influence perturbations using efficient inverse-Hessian-vector product implementations. We illustrate our results with generalized linear models and large attention based models on synthetic and real data.
We consider two federated learning algorithms for training partially personalized models, where the shared and personal parameters are updated either simultaneously or alternately on the devices. Both algorithms have been proposed in the literature, but their convergence properties are not fully understood, especially for the alternating variant. We provide convergence analyses of both algorithms in the general nonconvex setting with partial participation and delineate the regime where one dominates the other. Our experiments on real-world image, text, and speech datasets demonstrate that (a) partial personalization can obtain most of the benefits of full model personalization with a small fraction of personal parameters, and, (b) the alternating update algorithm often outperforms the simultaneous update algorithm.