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Label differential privacy via clustering

Hossein Esfandiari · Vahab Mirrokni · Umar Syed · Sergei Vassilvtiskii


We present new mechanisms for \emph{label differential privacy}, a relaxation of differentially private machine learning that only protects the privacy of the labels in the training set. Our mechanisms cluster the examples in the training set using their (non-private) feature vectors, randomly re-sample each label from examples in the same cluster, and output a training set with noisy labels as well as a modified version of the true loss function. We prove that when the clusters are both large and high-quality, the model that minimizes the modified loss on the noisy training set converges to small excess risk at a rate that is comparable to the rate for non-private learning. We also describe a learning problem in which large clusters are necessary to achieve both strong privacy and either good precision or good recall. Our experiments show that randomizing the labels within each cluster significantly improves the privacy vs. accuracy trade-off compared to applying uniform randomized response to the labels, and also compared to learning a model via DP-SGD.

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