Lowrank mechanism: Optimizing batch queries under differential privacy

Ganzhao Yuan, Zhenjie Zhang, Marianne Winslett, Xiaokui Xiao, Yin Yang, Zhifeng Hao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)


Differential privacy is a promising privacy-preserving paradigm for statistical query processing over sensitive data. It works by injecting random noise into each query result, such that it is provably hard for the adversary to infer the presence or absence of any individual record from the published noisy results. The main objective in differentially private query processing is to maximize the accuracy of the query results, while satisfying the privacy guarantees. Previous work, notably the matrix mechanism [16], has suggested that processing a batch of correlated queries as a whole can potentially achieve considerable accuracy gains, compared to answering them individually. However, as we point out in this paper, the matrix mechanism is mainly of theoretical interest; in particular, several inherent problems in its design limit its accuracy in practice, which almost never exceeds that of näïve methods. In fact, we are not aware of any existing solution that can effectively optimize a query batch under differential privacy. Motivated by this, we propose the Low-Rank Mechanism (LRM), the first practical differentially private technique for answering batch queries with high accuracy, based on a low rank approximation of the workload matrix. We prove that the accuracy provided by LRM is close to the theoretical lower bound for any mechanism to answer a batch of queries under differential privacy. Extensive experiments using real data demonstrate that LRM consistently outperforms state-of-theart query processing solutions under differential privacy, by large margins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1352-1363
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the VLDB Endowment
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science(all)

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