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Anonymous Learning via Look-Alike Clustering: A Precise Analysis of Model Generalization

Adel Javanmard · Vahab Mirrokni

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1617
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[ Paper [ Slides [ Poster [ OpenReview
Tue 12 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


While personalized recommendations systems have become increasingly popular, ensuring user data protection remains a top concern in the development of these learning systems. A common approach to enhancing privacy involves training models using anonymous data rather than individual data. In this paper, we explore a natural technique called "look-alike clustering", which involves replacing sensitive features of individuals with the cluster's average values. We provide a precise analysis of how training models using anonymous cluster centers affects their generalization capabilities. We focus on an asymptotic regime where the size of the training set grows in proportion to the features dimension. Our analysis is based on the Convex Gaussian Minimax Theorem (CGMT) and allows us to theoretically understand the role of different model components on the generalization error. In addition, we demonstrate that in certain high-dimensional regimes, training over anonymous cluster centers acts as a regularization and improves generalization error of the trained models. Finally, we corroborate our asymptotic theory with finite-sample numerical experiments where we observe a perfect match when the sample size is only of order of a few hundreds.

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