Private Estimation with Public Data

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Alex Bie, Gautam Kamath, Vikrant Singhal


We initiate the study of differentially private (DP) estimation with access to a small amount of public data. For private estimation of $d$-dimensional Gaussians, we assume that the public data comes from a Gaussian that may have vanishing similarity in total variation distance with the underlying Gaussian of the private data. We show that under the constraints of pure or concentrated DP, $d+1$ public data samples are sufficient to remove any dependence on the range parameters of the private data distribution from the private sample complexity, which is known to be otherwise necessary without public data. For separated Gaussian mixtures, we assume that the underlying public and private distributions are the same, and we consider two settings: (1) when given a dimension-independent amount of public data, the private sample complexity can be improved polynomially in terms of the number of mixture components, and any dependence on the range parameters of the distribution can be removed in the approximate DP case; (2) when given an amount of public data linear in the dimension, the private sample complexity can be made independent of range parameters even under concentrated DP, and additional improvements can be made to the overall sample complexity.