Keywords: [ Privacy-preserving Statistics and Machine Learning ] [ Social Good Applications ]
Composition is one of the most important properties of differential privacy (DP), as it allows algorithm designers to build complex private algorithms from DP primitives. We consider precise composition bounds of the overall privacy loss for exponential mechanisms, one of the fundamental classes of mechanisms in DP. Exponential mechanism has also become a fundamental building block in private machine learning, e.g. private PCA and hyper-parameter selection. We give explicit formulations of the optimal privacy loss for both the adaptive and non-adaptive composition of exponential mechanism. For the non-adaptive setting in which each mechanism has the same privacy parameter, we give an efficiently computable formulation of the optimal privacy loss. In the adaptive case, we derive a recursive formula and an efficiently computable upper bound. These precise understandings about the problem lead to a 40\% saving of the privacy budget in a practical application. Furthermore, the algorithm-specific analysis shows a difference in privacy parameters of adaptive and non-adaptive composition, which was widely believed to not exist based on the evidence from general analysis.