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On Differentially Private Stochastic Convex Optimization with Heavy-tailed Data

Di Wang · Hanshen Xiao · Srinivas Devadas · Jinhui Xu

Keywords: [ Privacy-preserving Statistics and Machine Learning ]

Abstract: In this paper, we consider the problem of designing Differentially Private (DP) algorithms for Stochastic Convex Optimization (SCO) on heavy-tailed data. The irregularity of such data violates some key assumptions used in almost all existing DP-SCO and DP-ERM methods, resulting in failure to provide the DP guarantees. To better understand this type of challenges, we provide in this paper a comprehensive study of DP-SCO under various settings. First, we consider the case where the loss function is strongly convex and smooth. For this case, we propose a method based on the sample-and-aggregate framework, which has an excess population risk of $\tilde{O}(\frac{d^3}{n\epsilon^4})$ (after omitting other factors), where $n$ is the sample size and $d$ is the dimensionality of the data. Then, we show that with some additional assumptions on the loss functions, it is possible to reduce the \textit{expected} excess population risk to $\tilde{O}(\frac{ d^2}{ n\epsilon^2 })$. To lift these additional conditions, we also provide a gradient smoothing and trimming based scheme to achieve excess population risks of $\tilde{O}(\frac{ d^2}{n\epsilon^2})$ and $\tilde{O}(\frac{d^\frac{2}{3}}{(n\epsilon^2)^\frac{1}{3}})$ for strongly convex and general convex loss functions, respectively, \textit{with high probability}. Experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets suggest that our algorithms can effectively deal with the challenges caused by data irregularity.

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