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Abstract:Estimating the density of a distribution from samples is a fundamental problem in statistics. In many practical settings, the Wasserstein distance is an appropriate error metric for density estimation. For example, when estimating population densities in a geographic region, a small Wasserstein distance means that the estimate is able to capture roughly where the population mass is. In this work we study differentially private density estimation in the Wasserstein distance. We design and analyze instance-optimal algorithms for this problem that can adapt to easy instances. For distributions $P$ over $\mathbb{R}$, we consider a strong notion of instance-optimality: an algorithm that uniformly achieves the instance-optimal estimation rate is competitive with an algorithm that is told that the distribution is either $P$ or $Q_P$ for some distribution $Q_P$ whose probability density function (pdf) is within a factor of 2 of the pdf of $P$. For distributions over $\mathbb{R}^2$, we use a different notion of instance optimality. We say that an algorithm is instance-optimal if it is competitive with an algorithm that is given a constant-factor multiplicative approximation of the density of the distribution. We characterize the instance-optimal estimation rates in both these settings and show that they are uniformly achievable (up to polylogarithmic factors). Our approach for $\mathbb{R}^2$ extends to arbitrary metric spaces as it goes via hierarchically separated trees. As a special case our results lead to instance-optimal private learning in TV distance for discrete distributions.

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Abstract:We study the problem of private vector mean estimation in the shuffle model of privacy where $n$ users each have a unit vector $v^{(i)} \in\mathbb{R}^d$. We propose a new multi-message protocol that achieves the optimal error using $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}\left(\min(n\varepsilon^2,d)\right)$ messages per user. Moreover, we show that any (unbiased) protocol that achieves optimal error requires each user to send $\Omega(\min(n\varepsilon^2,d)/\log(n))$ messages, demonstrating the optimality of our message complexity up to logarithmic factors. Additionally, we study the single-message setting and design a protocol that achieves mean squared error $\mathcal{O}(dn^{d/(d+2)}\varepsilon^{-4/(d+2)})$. Moreover, we show that any single-message protocol must incur mean squared error $\Omega(dn^{d/(d+2)})$, showing that our protocol is optimal in the standard setting where $\varepsilon = \Theta(1)$. Finally, we study robustness to malicious users and show that malicious users can incur large additive error with a single shuffler.

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Abstract:We address the problem of convex optimization with preference feedback, where the goal is to minimize a convex function given a weaker form of comparison queries. Each query consists of two points and the dueling feedback returns a (noisy) single-bit binary comparison of the function values of the two queried points. Here we consider the sign-function-based comparison feedback model and analyze the convergence rates with batched and multiway (argmin of a set queried points) comparisons. Our main goal is to understand the improved convergence rates owing to parallelization in sign-feedback-based optimization problems. Our work is the first to study the problem of convex optimization with multiway preferences and analyze the optimal convergence rates. Our first contribution lies in designing efficient algorithms with a convergence rate of $\smash{\widetilde O}(\frac{d}{\min\{m,d\} \epsilon})$ for $m$-batched preference feedback where the learner can query $m$-pairs in parallel. We next study a $m$-multiway comparison (`battling') feedback, where the learner can get to see the argmin feedback of $m$-subset of queried points and show a convergence rate of $\smash{\widetilde O}(\frac{d}{ \min\{\log m,d\}\epsilon })$. We show further improved convergence rates with an additional assumption of strong convexity. Finally, we also study the convergence lower bounds for batched preferences and multiway feedback optimization showing the optimality of our convergence rates w.r.t. $m$.

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Authors:Martin Pelikan, Sheikh Shams Azam, Vitaly Feldman, Jan "Honza" Silovsky, Kunal Talwar, Tatiana Likhomanenko

Abstract:While federated learning (FL) has recently emerged as a promising approach to train machine learning models, it is limited to only preliminary explorations in the domain of automatic speech recognition (ASR). Moreover, FL does not inherently guarantee user privacy and requires the use of differential privacy (DP) for robust privacy guarantees. However, we are not aware of prior work on applying DP to FL for ASR. In this paper, we aim to bridge this research gap by formulating an ASR benchmark for FL with DP and establishing the first baselines. First, we extend the existing research on FL for ASR by exploring different aspects of recent $\textit{large end-to-end transformer models}$: architecture design, seed models, data heterogeneity, domain shift, and impact of cohort size. With a $\textit{practical}$ number of central aggregations we are able to train $\textbf{FL models}$ that are \textbf{nearly optimal} even with heterogeneous data, a seed model from another domain, or no pre-trained seed model. Second, we apply DP to FL for ASR, which is non-trivial since DP noise severely affects model training, especially for large transformer models, due to highly imbalanced gradients in the attention block. We counteract the adverse effect of DP noise by reviving per-layer clipping and explaining why its effect is more apparent in our case than in the prior work. Remarkably, we achieve user-level ($7.2$, $10^{-9}$)-$\textbf{DP}$ (resp. ($4.5$, $10^{-9}$)-$\textbf{DP}$) with a 1.3% (resp. 4.6%) absolute drop in the word error rate for extrapolation to high (resp. low) population scale for $\textbf{FL with DP in ASR}$.

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Abstract:A key challenge in many modern data analysis tasks is that user data are heterogeneous. Different users may possess vastly different numbers of data points. More importantly, it cannot be assumed that all users sample from the same underlying distribution. This is true, for example in language data, where different speech styles result in data heterogeneity. In this work we propose a simple model of heterogeneous user data that allows user data to differ in both distribution and quantity of data, and provide a method for estimating the population-level mean while preserving user-level differential privacy. We demonstrate asymptotic optimality of our estimator and also prove general lower bounds on the error achievable in the setting we introduce.

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Authors:Kunal Talwar, Shan Wang, Audra McMillan, Vojta Jina, Vitaly Feldman, Bailey Basile, Aine Cahill, Yi Sheng Chan, Mike Chatzidakis, Junye Chen(+26 more)

Abstract:We revisit the problem of designing scalable protocols for private statistics and private federated learning when each device holds its private data. Our first contribution is to propose a simple primitive that allows for efficient implementation of several commonly used algorithms, and allows for privacy accounting that is close to that in the central setting without requiring the strong trust assumptions it entails. Second, we propose a system architecture that implements this primitive and perform a security analysis of the proposed system.

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Authors:Karan Chadha, Junye Chen, John Duchi, Vitaly Feldman, Hanieh Hashemi, Omid Javidbakht, Audra McMillan, Kunal Talwar

Abstract:In this work, we study practical heuristics to improve the performance of prefix-tree based algorithms for differentially private heavy hitter detection. Our model assumes each user has multiple data points and the goal is to learn as many of the most frequent data points as possible across all users' data with aggregate and local differential privacy. We propose an adaptive hyperparameter tuning algorithm that improves the performance of the algorithm while satisfying computational, communication and privacy constraints. We explore the impact of different data-selection schemes as well as the impact of introducing deny lists during multiple runs of the algorithm. We test these improvements using extensive experimentation on the Reddit dataset~\cite{caldas2018leaf} on the task of learning the most frequent words.

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Abstract:We study the problem of locally private mean estimation of high-dimensional vectors in the Euclidean ball. Existing algorithms for this problem either incur sub-optimal error or have high communication and/or run-time complexity. We propose a new algorithmic framework, ProjUnit, for private mean estimation that yields algorithms that are computationally efficient, have low communication complexity, and incur optimal error up to a $1+o(1)$-factor. Our framework is deceptively simple: each randomizer projects its input to a random low-dimensional subspace, normalizes the result, and then runs an optimal algorithm such as PrivUnitG in the lower-dimensional space. In addition, we show that, by appropriately correlating the random projection matrices across devices, we can achieve fast server run-time. We mathematically analyze the error of the algorithm in terms of properties of the random projections, and study two instantiations. Lastly, our experiments for private mean estimation and private federated learning demonstrate that our algorithms empirically obtain nearly the same utility as optimal ones while having significantly lower communication and computational cost.

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Abstract:We consider online learning problems in the realizable setting, where there is a zero-loss solution, and propose new Differentially Private (DP) algorithms that obtain near-optimal regret bounds. For the problem of online prediction from experts, we design new algorithms that obtain near-optimal regret ${O} \big( \varepsilon^{-1} \log^{1.5}{d} \big)$ where $d$ is the number of experts. This significantly improves over the best existing regret bounds for the DP non-realizable setting which are ${O} \big( \varepsilon^{-1} \min\big\{d, T^{1/3}\log d\big\} \big)$. We also develop an adaptive algorithm for the small-loss setting with regret $O(L^\star\log d + \varepsilon^{-1} \log^{1.5}{d})$ where $L^\star$ is the total loss of the best expert. Additionally, we consider DP online convex optimization in the realizable setting and propose an algorithm with near-optimal regret $O \big(\varepsilon^{-1} d^{1.5} \big)$, as well as an algorithm for the smooth case with regret $O \big( \varepsilon^{-2/3} (dT)^{1/3} \big)$, both significantly improving over existing bounds in the non-realizable regime.

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Abstract:Online prediction from experts is a fundamental problem in machine learning and several works have studied this problem under privacy constraints. We propose and analyze new algorithms for this problem that improve over the regret bounds of the best existing algorithms for non-adaptive adversaries. For approximate differential privacy, our algorithms achieve regret bounds of $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{T \log d} + \log d/\varepsilon)$ for the stochastic setting and $\tilde O(\sqrt{T \log d} + T^{1/3} \log d/\varepsilon)$ for oblivious adversaries (where $d$ is the number of experts). For pure DP, our algorithms are the first to obtain sub-linear regret for oblivious adversaries in the high-dimensional regime $d \ge T$. Moreover, we prove new lower bounds for adaptive adversaries. Our results imply that unlike the non-private setting, there is a strong separation between the optimal regret for adaptive and non-adaptive adversaries for this problem. Our lower bounds also show a separation between pure and approximate differential privacy for adaptive adversaries where the latter is necessary to achieve the non-private $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret.

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