Room: El Veril

The advent of machine learning applications in crucial decision-making processes including law, medicine, banking and education raises a number of important issues with technical and societal ramifications. Driven by these concerns, a growing body of research addresses questions related to fairness, bias, privacy and interpretability in machine learning and artificial intelligence. A fundamental problem in this area is devising formal definitions of these concepts that match the intuitions and properties that users expect from a fair/private/unbiased/interpretable system. Among these, fairness and privacy have seen important success in recent years with the proposal and adoption of definitions that can now be used to certify that machine learning algorithms make fair predictions or respect the privacy of the users in the training dataset.
This workshop will gather experts in fairness and privacy in machine learning with the goal of discussing the latest technical advances in the area. Additionally, the workshop will serve as a platform to highlight application domains with a pressing need for fairness and privacy technologies. The program also includes a panel discussion where speakers and attendees will have a chance to explore the challenges involved in deploying such technologies and brainstorm about the impact that research in these areas will have in our society.


  • Abhradeep Guha Thakurta (University of California Santa Cruz)
  • Aurelien Bellet (INRIA Lille)
  • Manuel Gomez-Rodriguez (Max Planck Institute for Software Systems)
  • Marco Gaboardi (University at Buffalo)
  • Sara Hajian (Eurecat Technology Center)
  • Christina Heinze-Deml (ETH, Zurich)

09:30- 10:15 Differentially Private Chi-Squared Hypothesis Testing: Goodness of Fit and Independence Testing Marco Gaboardi, SUNY

10:15- 11:00 A Decentralized and Robust Protocol for Private Averaging over Highly Distributed Data Aurelien Bellet, INRIA

11:30- 12:15 Data mining approaches for discrimination discovery Sara Hajian, Eurecat Technology Center

12:15- 13:00 Fairness constraints: a mechanism to design fair classifiers Manuel Gomez-Rodriguez, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems

18:00- 18:35 Preserving Differential Privacy Between Features in Distributed Estimation Christina Heinze-Deml, ETH Zurich

18:35- 19:10 Is Interaction Necessary for Distributed Private Learning? Abhradeep Guha Thakurta, University of California Santa Cruz

19:10- 20:00 Discussion Panel


Differentially Private Chi-Squared Hypothesis Testing: Goodness of Fit and Independence Testing


Hypothesis testing is a useful statistical tool in determining whether a given model should be rejected based on a sample from the population. Sample data may contain sensitive information about individuals, such as medical information. Thus it is important to design statistical tests that guarantee the privacy of subjects in the data. We present some results about hypothesis testing subject to differential privacy, specifically about chi-squared tests for goodness of fit for multinomial data and independence between two categorical variables. We propose new tests that like the classical versions can be used to determine whether a given model should be rejected or not, and that additionally can ensure differential privacy. We give both Monte Carlo based hypothesis tests as well as hypothesis tests that more closely follow the classical chi-squared goodness of fit test and independence test. Crucially, our tests account for the distribution of the noise that is injected to ensure privacy in determining significance. We will comment on our results and we will compare our approach with other recent proposals in the same direction.

A Decentralized and Robust Protocol for Private Averaging over Highly Distributed Data


We propose a decentralized protocol for a large set of users to privately compute averages over their joint data, which can be used to learn more complex machine learning models. Our protocol can find a solution of arbitrary accuracy, does not rely on a trusted third party and preserves the privacy of users throughout the execution in both the honest-but-curious and malicious adversary models. Furthermore, we design a verification procedure which offers protection against malicious users joining the service with the goal of manipulating the outcome of the algorithm.

Fairness constraints: a mechanism to design fair classifiers


Algorithmic decision making is ubiquitous across a wide variety of online as well as offline services. However, there is a growing concern that these automated decisions can lead, even in the absence of intent, to a lack of fairness, i.e., their outcomes can disproportionately hurt (or, benefit) particular groups of people sharing one or more sensitive attributes (e.g., race, sex). In this talk, I will introduce a flexible mechanism to design fair classifiers by leveraging a novel intuitive measure of decision boundary (un)fairness. I will then show that this mechanism can be easily incorporated into the formulation of several well-known margin based classifiers, without increasing their complexity, and it allows for a fine-grained control on the degree of fairness, often at a small cost in terms of accuracy.

Preserving Differential Privacy Between Features in Distributed Estimation


Privacy is crucial in many applications of machine learning. Legal, ethical and societal issues restrict the sharing of sensitive data making it difficult to learn from datasets that are partitioned between many parties. One important instance of such a distributed setting arises when information about each record in the dataset is held by different data owners (the design matrix is vertically-partitioned). In this setting few approaches exist for private data sharing for the purposes of statistical estimation and the classical setup of differential privacy with a trusted curator preparing the data does not apply. We introduce S-differential privacy which extends single-party differential privacy to the distributed, vertically-partitioned case. We then propose a scalable framework for distributed estimation where each party communicates perturbed sketches of their locally held features ensuring S-differential privacy is preserved. For L2-penalized supervised learning problems our proposed method has bounded estimation error compared with the optimal estimates obtained without privacy constraints in the non-distributed setting. We confirm this empirically on real world and synthetic datasets.

Is Interaction Necessary for Distributed Private Learning?


Recent large-scale deployments of differentially private algorithms employ the local model for privacy (sometimes called the randomized response), where data are randomized on individual's devices before being sent to a server that computes approximate, aggregate statistics. The server need not be trusted for privacy, leaving data control in users' hands. For an important class of convex optimization problems (including logistic regression, support vector machines, and the Euclidean median), the best known locally differentially private algorithm are highly interactive. With n users in the protocol, they use n rounds of back and forth communication. The server exchanges messages with each user only once, but must do so in sequence. We ask: how much interaction is necessary to optimize convex functions in the local DP model? We give a new noninteractive algorithm for local, differentially private convex optimization. For 1-dimensional problems, its error matches the error of the interactive solutions, which are optimal. As the dimension grows, however, our algorithm's required sample size grows exponentially with the dimension.  We show that this dependency is necessary for a large family of algorithms (including those in the literature). Finally, we study algorithms that use interaction sparingly. We show that several natural locally DP algorithms---analogues of gradient descent and the cutting plane method---obtain low error using relatively few rounds.