Optimizing batch linear queries under exact and approximate differential privacy

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 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 Li et al. [2010], has suggested that, with an appropriate strategy, processing a batch of correlated queries as a whole achieves considerably higher accuracy than answering them individually. However, to our knowledge there is currently no practical solution to find such a strategy for an arbitrary query batch; existing methods either return strategies of poor quality (often worse than naive methods) or require prohibitively expensive computations for even moderately large domains. Motivated by this, we propose a low-rank mechanism (LRM), the first practical differentially private technique for answering batch linear queries with high accuracy. LRM works for both exact (i.e., ε-) and approximate (i.e., (ε, δ)-) differential privacy definitions. We derive the utility guarantees of LRM and provide guidance on how to set the privacy parameters, given the user's utility expectation. Extensive experiments using real data demonstrate that our proposed method consistently outperforms state-of-the-art query processing solutions under differential privacy, by large margins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalACM Transactions on Database Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Algorithms
  • Experimentation
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems

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