Differentially Private Image Classification by Learning Priors from Random Processes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Xinyu Tang, Ashwinee Panda, Vikash Sehwag, Prateek Mittal


In privacy-preserving machine learning, differentially private stochastic gradient descent (DP-SGD) performs worse than SGD due to per-sample gradient clipping and noise addition.A recent focus in private learning research is improving the performance of DP-SGD on private data by incorporating priors that are learned on real-world public data.In this work, we explore how we can improve the privacy-utility tradeoff of DP-SGD by learning priors from images generated by random processes and transferring these priors to private data. We propose DP-RandP, a three-phase approach. We attain new state-of-the-art accuracy when training from scratch on CIFAR10, CIFAR100, MedMNIST and ImageNet for a range of privacy budgets $\\varepsilon \\in [1, 8]$. In particular, we improve the previous best reported accuracy on CIFAR10 from $60.6 \\%$ to $72.3 \\%$ for $\\varepsilon=1$.