Differentially Private Data Generation Needs Better Features

25 May 2022  ·  Fredrik Harder, Milad Jalali Asadabadi, Danica J. Sutherland, Mijung Park ·

Training even moderately-sized generative models with differentially-private stochastic gradient descent (DP-SGD) is difficult: the required level of noise for reasonable levels of privacy is simply too large. We advocate instead building off a good, relevant representation on public data, then using private data only for "transfer learning." In particular, we minimize the maximum mean discrepancy (MMD) between private target data and the generated distribution, using a kernel based on perceptual features from a public dataset. With the MMD, we can simply privatize the data-dependent term once and for all, rather than introducing noise at each step of optimization as in DP-SGD. Our algorithm allows us to generate CIFAR10-level images faithfully with $\varepsilon \approx 2$, far surpassing the current state of the art, which only models MNIST and FashionMNIST at $\varepsilon \approx 10$. Our work introduces simple yet powerful foundations for reducing the gap between private and non-private deep generative models.

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