Making AI Forget You: Data Deletion in Machine Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Antonio Ginart, Melody Guan, Gregory Valiant, James Y. Zou


Intense recent discussions have focused on how to provide individuals with control over when their data can and cannot be used --- the EU’s Right To Be Forgotten regulation is an example of this effort. In this paper we initiate a framework studying what to do when it is no longer permissible to deploy models derivative from specific user data. In particular, we formulate the problem of efficiently deleting individual data points from trained machine learning models. For many standard ML models, the only way to completely remove an individual's data is to retrain the whole model from scratch on the remaining data, which is often not computationally practical. We investigate algorithmic principles that enable efficient data deletion in ML. For the specific setting of $k$-means clustering, we propose two provably deletion efficient algorithms which achieve an average of over $100\times$ improvement in deletion efficiency across 6 datasets, while producing clusters of comparable statistical quality to a canonical $k$-means++ baseline.