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  1. The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed years of cyclic inequalities faced by disadvantaged and minority communities. Unequal access to healthcare and a lack of financial resources further exacerbates their suffering, especially during a pandemic. In such critical conditions, information technology-based healthcare services can be an efficient way of increasing access to healthcare for these communities. In this paper, we put forward a decision model for guiding the distribution of IT-based healthcare services for racial minorities. We augment the Health Belief Model by adding financial and technology beliefs. We posit that financial inclusion of minority populations increases their ability to access technology and, by extension, IT-based healthcare services. Financial inclusion and the use of secure private technologies like federated learning can indeed enable greater access to healthcare services for minorities. Therefore, we incorporate financial, health, and technology tools to develop a model for equitable delivery of healthcare services and test its applicability in different use-case scenarios. 
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  2. Federated learning (FL) enables distributed agents to collaboratively learn a centralized model without sharing their raw data with each other. However, data locality does not provide sufficient privacy protection, and it is desirable to facilitate FL with rigorous differential privacy (DP) guarantee. Existing DP mechanisms would introduce random noise with magnitude proportional to the model size, which can be quite large in deep neural networks. In this paper, we propose a new FL framework with sparsification-amplified privacy. Our approach integrates random sparsification with gradient perturbation on each agent to amplify privacy guarantee. Since sparsification would increase the number of communication rounds required to achieve a certain target accuracy, which is unfavorable for DP guarantee, we further introduce acceleration techniques to help reduce the privacy cost. We rigorously analyze the convergence of our approach and utilize Renyi DP to tightly account the end-to-end DP guarantee. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets validate that our approach outperforms previous differentially-private FL approaches in both privacy guarantee and communication efficiency.

     
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  8. To provide intelligent and personalized services on smart devices, machine learning techniques have been widely used to learn from data, identify patterns, and make automated decisions. Machine learning processes typically require a large amount of representative data that are often collected through crowdsourcing from end users. However, user data could be sensitive in nature, and training machine learning models on these data may expose sensitive information of users, violating their privacy. Moreover, to meet the increasing demand of personalized services, these learned models should capture their individual characteristics. This paper proposes a privacy-preserving approach for learning effective personalized models on distributed user data while guaranteeing the differential privacy of user data. Practical issues in a distributed learning system such as user heterogeneity are considered in the proposed approach. In addition, the convergence property and privacy guarantee of the proposed approach are rigorously analyzed. Experimental results on realistic mobile sensing data demonstrate that the proposed approach is robust to user heterogeneity and offers a good trade-off between accuracy and privacy. 
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