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Differentially Private Reward Estimation with Preference Feedback

Sayak Ray Chowdhury · Xingyu Zhou · Nagarajan Natarajan

MR1 & MR2 - Number 56
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Sat 4 May 6 a.m. PDT — 8:30 a.m. PDT

Abstract: Learning from preference-based feedback has recently gained considerable traction as a promising approach to align generative models with human interests. Instead of relying on numerical rewards, the generative models are trained using reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF). These approaches first solicit feedback from human labelers typically in the form of pairwise comparisons between two possible actions, then estimate a reward model using these comparisons, and finally employ a policy based on the estimated reward model. An adversarial attack in any step of the above pipeline might reveal private and sensitive information of human labelers. In this work, we adopt the notion of \emph{label differential privacy} (DP) and focus on the problem of reward estimation from preference-based feedback while protecting privacy of each individual labelers. Specifically, we consider the parametric Bradley-Terry-Luce (BTL) model for such pairwise comparison feedback involving a latent reward parameter $\theta^* \in \mathbb{R}^d$. Within a standard minimax estimation framework, we provide tight upper and lower bounds on the error in estimating $\theta^*$ under both \emph{local} and \emph{central} models of DP. We show, for a given privacy budget $\epsilon$ and number of samples $n$, that the additional cost to ensure label-DP under local model is $\Theta \big(\frac{1}{ e^\epsilon-1}\sqrt{\frac{d}{n}}\big)$, while it is $\Theta\big(\frac{\sqrt{d}}{\epsilon n} \big)$ under the weaker central model. We perform simulations on synthetic data that corroborate these theoretical results.

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