Differentially Private n-gram Extraction

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Kunho Kim, Sivakanth Gopi, Janardhan Kulkarni, Sergey Yekhanin


We revisit the problem of $n$-gram extraction in the differential privacy setting. In this problem, given a corpus of private text data, the goal is to release as many $n$-grams as possible while preserving user level privacy. Extracting $n$-grams is a fundamental subroutine in many NLP applications such as sentence completion, auto response generation for emails, etc. The problem also arises in other applications such as sequence mining, trajectory analysis, etc., and is a generalization of recently studied differentially private set union (DPSU) by Gopi et al. (2020). In this paper, we develop a new differentially private algorithm for this problem which, in our experiments, significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art. Our improvements stem from combining recent advances in DPSU, privacy accounting, and new heuristics for pruning in the tree-based approach initiated by Chen et al. (2012).