Learner-Private Online Convex Optimization

by   Jiaming Xu, et al.

Online convex optimization is a framework where a learner sequentially queries an external data source in order to arrive at the optimal solution of a convex function. The paradigm has gained significant popularity recently thanks to its scalability in large-scale optimization and machine learning. The repeated interactions, however, expose the learner to privacy risks from eavesdropping adversary that observe the submitted queries. In this paper, we study how to optimally obfuscate the learner's queries in first-order online convex optimization, so that their learned optimal value is provably difficult to estimate for the eavesdropping adversary. We consider two formulations of learner privacy: a Bayesian formulation in which the convex function is drawn randomly, and a minimax formulation in which the function is fixed and the adversary's probability of error is measured with respect to a minimax criterion. We show that, if the learner wants to ensure the probability of accurate prediction by the adversary be kept below 1/L, then the overhead in query complexity is additive in L in the minimax formulation, but multiplicative in L in the Bayesian formulation. Compared to existing learner-private sequential learning models with binary feedback, our results apply to the significantly richer family of general convex functions with full-gradient feedback. Our proofs are largely enabled by tools from the theory of Dirichlet processes, as well as more sophisticated lines of analysis aimed at measuring the amount of information leakage under a full-gradient oracle.


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