R^2DP: A Universal and Automated Approach to Optimizing the Randomization Mechanisms of Differential Privacy for Utility Metrics with No Known Optimal Distributions

09/20/2020
by   Meisam Mohammady, et al.
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Differential privacy (DP) has emerged as a de facto standard privacy notion for a wide range of applications. Since the meaning of data utility in different applications may vastly differ, a key challenge is to find the optimal randomization mechanism, i.e., the distribution and its parameters, for a given utility metric. Existing works have identified the optimal distributions in some special cases, while leaving all other utility metrics (e.g., usefulness and graph distance) as open problems. Since existing works mostly rely on manual analysis to examine the search space of all distributions, it would be an expensive process to repeat such efforts for each utility metric. To address such deficiency, we propose a novel approach that can automatically optimize different utility metrics found in diverse applications under a common framework. Our key idea that, by regarding the variance of the injected noise itself as a random variable, a two-fold distribution may approximately cover the search space of all distributions. Therefore, we can automatically find distributions in this search space to optimize different utility metrics in a similar manner, simply by optimizing the parameters of the two-fold distribution. Specifically, we define a universal framework, namely, randomizing the randomization mechanism of differential privacy (R^2DP), and we formally analyze its privacy and utility. Our experiments show that R^2DP can provide better results than the baseline distribution (Laplace) for several utility metrics with no known optimal distributions, whereas our results asymptotically approach to the optimality for utility metrics having known optimal distributions. As a side benefit, the added degree of freedom introduced by the two-fold distribution allows R^2DP to accommodate the preferences of both data owners and recipients.

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