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Differentially Private SGD Without Clipping Bias: An Error-Feedback Approach

Xinwei Zhang · Zhiqi Bu · Steven Wu · Mingyi Hong

Halle B #214
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Thu 9 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Differentially Private Stochastic Gradient Descent with Gradient Clipping (DPSGD-GC) is a powerful tool for training deep learning models using sensitive data, providing both a solid theoretical privacy guarantee and high efficiency. However, existing research has shown that DPSGD-GC only converges when using large clipping thresholds that are dependent on problem-specific parameters that are often unknown in practice. Therefore, DPSGD-GC suffers from degraded performance due to the {\it constant} bias introduced by the clipping. In our work, we propose a new error-feedback (EF) DP algorithm as an alternative to DPSGD-GC, which offers a diminishing utility bound without inducing a constant clipping bias. More importantly, it allows for an arbitrary choice of clipping threshold that is independent of the problem. We establish an algorithm-specific DP analysis for our proposed algorithm, providing privacy guarantees based on R{\'e}nyi DP. And we demonstrate that under mild conditions, our algorithm can achieve the same utility bound as DPSGD without gradient clipping. Our empirical results on standard datasets show that the proposed algorithm achieves higher accuracies than DPSGD while maintaining the same level of DP guarantee.

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