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Correlated Noise Provably Beats Independent Noise for Differentially Private Learning

Christopher Choquette-Choo · Krishnamurthy Dvijotham · Krishna Pillutla · Arun Ganesh · Thomas Steinke · Abhradeep Guha Thakurta

Halle B #217
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Wed 8 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Differentially private learning algorithms inject noise into the learning process. While the most common private learning algorithm, DP-SGD, adds independent Gaussian noise in each iteration, recent work on matrix factorization mechanisms has shown empirically that introducing correlations in the noise can greatly improve their utility. We characterize the asymptotic learning utility for any choice of the correlation function, giving precise analytical bounds for linear regression and as the solution to a convex program for general convex functions. We show, using these bounds, how correlated noise provably improves upon vanilla DP-SGD as a function of problem parameters such as the effective dimension and condition number. Moreover, our analytical expression for the near-optimal correlation function circumvents the cubic complexity of the semi-definite program used to optimize the noise correlation matrix in previous work. We validate these theoretical results with experiments on private deep learning. Our work matches or outperforms prior work while being efficient both in terms of computation and memory.

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