Differentially Private Distributed Estimation and Learning

IISE Transactions(2023)

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We study distributed estimation and learning problems in a networked environment in which agents exchange information to estimate unknown statistical properties of random variables from their privately observed samples. By exchanging information about their private observations, the agents can collectively estimate the unknown quantities, but they also face privacy risks. The goal of our aggregation schemes is to combine the observed data efficiently over time and across the network, while accommodating the privacy needs of the agents and without any coordination beyond their local neighborhoods. Our algorithms enable the participating agents to estimate a complete sufficient statistic from private signals that are acquired offline or online over time, and to preserve the privacy of their signals and network neighborhoods. This is achieved through linear aggregation schemes with adjusted randomization schemes that add noise to the exchanged estimates subject to differential privacy (DP) constraints. In every case, we demonstrate the efficiency of our algorithms by proving convergence to the estimators of a hypothetical, omniscient observer that has central access to all of the signals. We also provide convergence rate analysis and finite-time performance guarantees and show that the noise that minimizes the convergence time to the best estimates is the Laplace noise, with parameters corresponding to each agent's sensitivity to their signal and network characteristics. Finally, to supplement and validate our theoretical results, we run experiments on real-world data from the US Power Grid Network and electric consumption data from German Households to estimate the average power consumption of power stations and households under all privacy regimes.
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Key words
private distributed estimation,learning
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