Information bottleneck (IB) and privacy funnel (PF) are two closely related optimization problems which have found applications in machine learning, design of privacy algorithms, capacity problems (e.g., Mrs. Gerber’s Lemma), and strong data processing inequalities, among others. In this work, we first investigate the functional properties of IB and PF through a unified theoretical framework. We then connect them to three information-theoretic coding problems, namely hypothesis testing against independence, noisy source coding, and dependence dilution. Leveraging these connections, we prove a new cardinality bound on the auxiliary variable in IB, making its computation more tractable for discrete random variables. In the second part, we introduce a general family of optimization problems, termed “bottleneck problems”, by replacing mutual information in IB and PF with other notions of mutual information, namely f-information and Arimoto’s mutual information. We then argue that, unlike IB and PF, these problems lead to easily interpretable guarantees in a variety of inference tasks with statistical constraints on accuracy and privacy. While the underlying optimization problems are non-convex, we develop a technique to evaluate bottleneck problems in closed form by equivalently expressing them in terms of lower convex or upper concave envelope of certain functions. By applying this techniquemore »
SDP Methods for Sensitivity-Constrained Privacy Funnel and Information Bottleneck Problems
We generalize the information bottleneck (IB) and privacy funnel (PF) problems by introducing the notion of a sensitive attribute, which arises in a growing number of applications. In this generalization, we seek to construct representations of observations that are maximally (or minimally) informative about a target variable, while also satisfying constraints with respect to a variable corresponding to the sensitive attribute. In the Gaussian and discrete settings, we show that by suitably approximating the Kullback-Liebler (KL) divergence defining traditional Shannon mutual information, the generalized IB and PF problems can be formulated as semi-definite programs (SDPs), and thus efficiently solved, which is important in applications of high-dimensional inference. We validate our algorithms on synthetic data and demonstrate their use in imposing fairness in machine learning on real data as an illustrative application.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 49 - 54
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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