Privacy-preserving Fine-tuning of Large Language Models through Flatness

7 Mar 2024  ·  Tiejin Chen, Longchao Da, Huixue Zhou, Pingzhi Li, Kaixiong Zhou, Tianlong Chen, Hua Wei ·

The privacy concerns associated with the use of Large Language Models (LLMs) have grown recently with the development of LLMs such as ChatGPT. Differential Privacy (DP) techniques are explored in existing work to mitigate their privacy risks at the cost of generalization degradation. Our paper reveals that the flatness of DP-trained models' loss landscape plays an essential role in the trade-off between their privacy and generalization. We further propose a holistic framework to enforce appropriate weight flatness, which substantially improves model generalization with competitive privacy preservation. It innovates from three coarse-to-grained levels, including perturbation-aware min-max optimization on model weights within a layer, flatness-guided sparse prefix-tuning on weights across layers, and weight knowledge distillation between DP \& non-DP weights copies. Comprehensive experiments of both black-box and white-box scenarios are conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposal in enhancing generalization and maintaining DP characteristics. For instance, on text classification dataset QNLI, DP-Flat achieves similar performance with non-private full fine-tuning but with DP guarantee under privacy budget $\epsilon=3$, and even better performance given higher privacy budgets. Codes are provided in the supplement.

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