User-Level Differential Privacy With Few Examples Per User

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

Bibtex Paper


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.