DPVIm: Differentially Private Variational Inference Improved

Published: 20 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 20 Sept 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Authors that are also TMLR Expert Reviewers: ~Joonas_Jälkö1
Abstract: Differentially private (DP) release of multidimensional statistics typically considers an aggregate sensitivity, e.g. the vector norm of a high-dimensional vector. However, different dimensions of that vector might have widely different magnitudes and therefore DP perturbation disproportionately affects the signal across dimensions. We observe this problem in the gradient release of the DP-SGD algorithm when using it for variational inference (VI), where it manifests in poor convergence as well as high variance in outputs for certain variational parameters, and make the following contributions: (i) We mathematically isolate the cause for the difference in magnitudes between gradient parts corresponding to different variational parameters. Using this as prior knowledge we establish a link between the gradients of the variational parameters, and propose an efficient while simple fix for the problem to obtain a less noisy gradient estimator, which we call \emph{aligned} gradients. This approach allows us to obtain the updates for the covariance parameter of a Gaussian posterior approximation without a privacy cost. We compare this to alternative approaches for scaling the gradients using analytically derived preconditioning, e.g. natural gradients. (ii) We suggest using iterate averaging over the DP parameter traces recovered during the training, to reduce the DP-induced noise in parameter estimates at no additional cost in privacy. Finally, (iii) to accurately capture the additional uncertainty DP introduces to the model parameters, we infer the DP-induced noise from the parameter traces and include that in the learned posteriors to make them \emph{noise aware}. We demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed improvements through various experiments on real data.
Certifications: Expert Certification
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Supplementary Material: zip
Assigned Action Editor: ~Jiantao_Jiao1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 1101