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  1. We consider the question of Gaussian mean testing, a fundamental task in high-dimensional distribution testing and signal processing, subject to adversarial corruptions of the samples. We focus on the relative power of different adversaries, and show that, in contrast to the common wisdom in robust statistics, there exists a strict separation between adaptive adversaries (strong contamination) and oblivious ones (weak contamination) for this task. Specifically, we resolve both the information-theoretic and computational landscapes for robust mean testing. In the exponential-time setting, we establish the tight sample complexity of testing N(0,I) against N(αv,I), where ∥v∥2=1, with an ε-fraction of adversarial corruptions, to be Θ~(max(d−−√α2,dε3α4,min(d2/3ε2/3α8/3,dεα2))), while the complexity against adaptive adversaries is Θ~(max(d−−√α2,dε2α4)), which is strictly worse for a large range of vanishing ε,α. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first separation in sample complexity between the strong and weak contamination models. In the polynomial-time setting, we close a gap in the literature by providing a polynomial-time algorithm against adaptive adversaries achieving the above sample complexity Θ~(max(d−−√/α2,dε2/α4)), and a low-degree lower bound (which complements an existing reduction from planted clique) suggesting that all efficient algorithms require this many samples, even in the oblivious-adversary setting. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 9, 2024
  2. We present a fast, differentially private algorithm for high-dimensional covariance-aware mean estimation with nearly optimal sample complexity. Only exponential-time estimators were previously known to achieve this guarantee. Given n samples from a (sub-)Gaussian distribution with unknown mean μ and covariance Σ, our (ε,δ)-differentially private estimator produces μ~ such that ∥μ−μ~∥Σ≤α as long as n≳dα2+dlog1/δ√αε+dlog1/δε. The Mahalanobis error metric ∥μ−μ^∥Σ measures the distance between μ^ and μ relative to Σ; it characterizes the error of the sample mean. Our algorithm runs in time O~(ndω−1+nd/ε), where ω<2.38 is the matrix multiplication exponent. We adapt an exponential-time approach of Brown, Gaboardi, Smith, Ullman, and Zakynthinou (2021), giving efficient variants of stable mean and covariance estimation subroutines that also improve the sample complexity to the nearly optimal bound above. Our stable covariance estimator can be turned to private covariance estimation for unrestricted subgaussian distributions. With n≳d3/2 samples, our estimate is accurate in spectral norm. This is the first such algorithm using n=o(d2) samples, answering an open question posed by Alabi et al. (2022). With n≳d2 samples, our estimate is accurate in Frobenius norm. This leads to a fast, nearly optimal algorithm for private learning of unrestricted Gaussian distributions in TV distance. Duchi, Haque, and Kuditipudi (2023) obtained similar results independently and concurrently. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 15, 2024
  3. Gergely Neu and Lorenzo Rosasco (Ed.)
  4. We study the relationship between adversarial robustness and differential privacy in high-dimensional algorithmic statistics. We give the first black-box reduction from privacy to robustness which can produce private estimators with optimal tradeoffs among sample complexity, accuracy, and privacy for a wide range of fundamental high-dimensional parameter estimation problems, including mean and covariance estimation. We show that this reduction can be implemented in polynomial time in some important special cases. In particular, using nearly-optimal polynomial-time robust estimators for the mean and covariance of high-dimensional Gaussians which are based on the Sum-of-Squares method, we design the first polynomial-time private estimators for these problems with nearly-optimal samples-accuracy-privacy tradeoffs. Our algorithms are also robust to a constant fraction of adversarially-corrupted samples. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 23, 2024
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