Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

*Badih Ghazi, Pritish Kamath, Ravi Kumar, Pasin Manurangsi, Raghu Meka, Chiyuan Zhang*

Previous work on user-level differential privacy (DP) [Ghazi et al. NeurIPS 2021, Bun et al. STOC 2023] obtained generic algorithms that work for various learning tasks. However, their focus was on the *example-rich* regime, where the users have so many examples that each user could themselves solve the problem. In this work we consider the *example-scarce* regime, where each user has only a few examples, and obtain the following results:* For approximate-DP, we give a generic transformation of any item-level DP algorithm to a user-level DP algorithm. Roughly speaking, the latter gives a (multiplicative) savings of $O_{\varepsilon,\delta}(\sqrt{m})$ in terms of the number of users required for achieving the same utility, where $m$ is the number of examples per user. This algorithm, while recovering most known bounds for specific problems, also gives new bounds, e.g., for PAC learning. * For pure-DP, we present a simple technique for adapting the exponential mechanism [McSherry & Talwar, FOCS 2007] to the user-level setting. This gives new bounds for a variety of tasks, such as private PAC learning, hypothesis selection, and distribution learning. For some of these problems, we show that our bounds are near-optimal.

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