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  1. Differential privacy provides a rigorous framework for privacy-preserving data analysis. This paper proposes the first differentially private procedure for controlling the false discovery rate (FDR) in multiple hypothesis testing. Inspired by the Benjamini-Hochberg procedure (BHq), our approach is to first repeatedly add noise to the logarithms of the p-values to ensure differential privacy and to select an approximately smallest p-value serving as a promising candidate at each iteration; the selected p-values are further supplied to the BHq and our private procedure releases only the rejected ones. Moreover, we develop a new technique that is based on a backward submartingale for proving FDR control of a broad class of multiple testing procedures, including our private procedure, and both the BHq step- up and step-down procedures. As a novel aspect, the proof works for arbitrary dependence between the true null and false null test statistics, while FDR control is maintained up to a small multiplicative factor.
  2. Roth, A (Ed.)
    It is well understood that classification algorithms, for example, for deciding on loan applications, cannot be evaluated for fairness without taking context into account. We examine what can be learned from a fairness oracle equipped with an underlying understanding of “true” fairness. The oracle takes as input a (context, classifier) pair satisfying an arbitrary fairness definition, and accepts or rejects the pair according to whether the classifier satisfies the underlying fairness truth. Our principal conceptual result is an extraction procedure that learns the underlying truth; moreover, the procedure can learn an approximation to this truth given access to a weak form of the oracle. Since every “truly fair” classifier induces a coarse metric, in which those receiving the same decision are at distance zero from one another and those receiving different decisions are at distance one, this extraction process provides the basis for ensuring a rough form of metric fairness, also known as individual fairness. Our principal technical result is a higher fidelity extractor under a mild technical constraint on the weak oracle’s conception of fairness. Our framework permits the scenario in which many classifiers, with differing outcomes, may all be considered fair. Our results have implications for interpretablity –more »a highly desired but poorly defined property of classification systems that endeavors to permit a human arbiter to reject classifiers deemed to be“unfair” or illegitimately derived.« less
  3. Singh, A (Ed.)
    Robust optimization has been widely used in nowadays data science, especially in adversarial training. However, little research has been done to quantify how robust optimization changes the optimizers and the prediction losses comparing to standard training. In this paper, inspired by the influence function in robust statistics, we introduce the Adversarial Influence Function (AIF) as a tool to investigate the solution produced by robust optimization. The proposed AIF enjoys a closed-form and can be calculated efficiently. To illustrate the usage of AIF, we apply it to study model sensitivity — a quantity defined to capture the change of prediction losses on the natural data after implementing robust optimization. We use AIF to analyze how model complexity and randomized smoothing affect the model sensitivity with respect to specific models. We further derive AIF for kernel regressions, with a particular application to neural tangent kernels, and experimentally demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed AIF. Lastly, the theories of AIF will be extended to distributional robust optimization.
  4. Roth, A (Ed.)
    It is well understood that a system built from individually fair components may not itself be individually fair. In this work, we investigate individual fairness under pipeline composition. Pipelines differ from ordinary sequential or repeated composition in that individuals may drop out at any stage, and classification in subsequent stages may depend on the remaining “cohort” of individuals. As an example, a company might hire a team for a new project and at a later point promote the highest performer on the team. Unlike other repeated classification settings, where the degree of unfairness degrades gracefully over multiple fair steps, the degree of unfairness in pipelines can be arbitrary, even in a pipeline with just two stages. Guided by a panoply of real-world examples, we provide a rigorous framework for evaluating different types of fairness guarantees for pipelines. We show that naïve auditing is unable to uncover systematic unfairness and that, in order to ensure fairness, some form of dependence must exist between the design of algorithms at different stages in the pipeline. Finally, we provide constructions that permit flexibility at later stages, meaning that there is no need to lock in the entire pipeline at the time that the earlymore »stage is constructed.« less
  5. Daumé, H ; Singh, A (Ed.)
    An acknowledged weakness of neural networks is their vulnerability to adversarial perturbations to the inputs. To improve the robustness of these models, one of the most popular defense mechanisms is to alternatively maximize the loss over the constrained perturbations (or called adversaries) on the inputs using projected gradient ascent and minimize over weights. In this paper, we analyze the dynamics of the maximization step towards understanding the experimentally observed effectiveness of this defense mechanism. Specifically, we investigate the non-concave landscape of the adversaries for a two-layer neural network with a quadratic loss. Our main result proves that projected gradient ascent finds a local maximum of this non-concave problem in a polynomial number of iterations with high probability. To our knowledge, this is the first work that provides a convergence analysis of the first-order adversaries. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates that, in the initial phase of adversarial training, the scale of the inputs matters in the sense that a smaller input scale leads to faster convergence of adversarial training and a “more regular” landscape. Finally, we show that these theoretical findings are in excellent agreement with a series of experiments.
  6. Many selection procedures involve ordering candidates according to their qualifications. For example, a university might order applicants according to a perceived probability of graduation within four years, and then select the top 1000 applicants. In this work, we address the problem of ranking members of a population according to their “probability” of success, based on a training set of historical binary outcome data (e.g., graduated in four years or not). We show how to obtain rankings that satisfy a number of desirable accuracy and fairness criteria, despite the coarseness of the training data. As the task of ranking is global (the rank of every individual depends not only on their own qualifications, but also on every other individuals’ qualifications), ranking is more subtle and vulnerable to manipulation than standard prediction tasks. Towards mitigating unfair discrimination caused by inaccuracies in rankings, we develop two parallel definitions of evidence-based rankings. The first definition relies on a semantic notion of domination-compatibility: if the training data suggest that members of a set S are more qualified (on average) than the members of T, then a ranking that favors T over S (where T dominates S) is blatantly inconsistent with the evidence, and likely tomore »be discriminatory. The definition asks for domination-compatibility, not just for a pair of sets, but rather for every pair of sets from a rich collection C of subpopulations. The second definition aims at precluding even more general forms of discrimination; this notion of evidence-consistency requires that the ranking must be justified on the basis of consistency with the expectations for every set in the collection C. Somewhat surprisingly, while evidence-consistency is a strictly stronger notion than domination-compatibility when the collection C is predefined, the two notions are equivalent when the collection C may depend on the ranking in question.« less
  7. Differential privacy is at a turning point. Implementations have been successfully leveraged in private industry, the public sector, and academia in a wide variety of applications, allowing scientists, engineers, and researchers the ability to learn about populations of interest without specifically learning about these individuals. Because differential privacy allows us to quantify cumulative privacy loss, these differentially private systems will, for the first time, allow us to measure and compare the total privacy loss due to these personal data-intensive activities. Appropriately leveraged, this could be a watershed moment for privacy. Like other technologies and techniques that allow for a range of instantiations, implementation details matter. When meaningfully implemented, differential privacy supports deep data-driven insights with minimal worst-case privacy loss. When not meaningfully implemented, differential privacy delivers privacy mostly in name. Using differential privacy to maximize learning while providing a meaningful degree of privacy requires judicious choices with respect to the privacy parameter epsilon, among other factors. However, there is little understanding of what is the optimal value of epsilon for a given system or classes of systems/purposes/data etc. or how to go about figuring it out. To understand current differential privacy implementations and how organizations make these key choices inmore »practice, we conducted interviews with practitioners to learn from their experiences of implementing differential privacy. We found no clear consensus on how to choose epsilon, nor is there agreement on how to approach this and other key implementation decisions. Given the importance of these implementation details there is a need for shared learning amongst the differential privacy community. To serve these purposes, we propose the creation of the Epsilon Registry—a publicly available communal body of knowledge about differential privacy implementations that can be used by various stakeholders to drive the identification and adoption of judicious differentially private implementations.« less