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A Randomized Approach to Tight Privacy Accounting

Jiachen (Tianhao) Wang · Saeed Mahloujifar · Tong Wu · Ruoxi Jia · Prateek Mittal

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1618
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Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST

Abstract: Bounding privacy leakage over compositions, i.e., privacy accounting, is a key challenge in differential privacy (DP). However, the privacy parameter ($\varepsilon$ or $\delta$) is often easy to estimate but hard to bound. In this paper, we propose a new differential privacy paradigm called estimate-verify-release (EVR), which tackles the challenges of providing a strict upper bound for the privacy parameter in DP compositions by converting an *estimate* of privacy parameter into a formal guarantee. The EVR paradigm first verifies whether the mechanism meets the *estimated* privacy guarantee, and then releases the query output based on the verification result. The core component of the EVR is privacy verification. We develop a randomized privacy verifier using Monte Carlo (MC) technique. Furthermore, we propose an MC-based DP accountant that outperforms existing DP accounting techniques in terms of accuracy and efficiency. MC-based DP verifier and accountant is applicable to an important and commonly used class of DP algorithms, including the famous DP-SGD. An empirical evaluation shows the proposed EVR paradigm improves the utility-privacy tradeoff for privacy-preserving machine learning.

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