Really Useful Synthetic Data – A Framework to Evaluate the Quality of Differentially Private Synthetic Data

Jul 18, 2020



Recent advances in generating synthetic data that allow to add principled ways of protecting privacy -- such as Differential Privacy -- are a crucial step in sharing statistical information in a privacy preserving way. But while the focus has been on privacy guarantees, the resulting private synthetic data is only useful if it still carries statistical information from the original data. To further optimise the inherent trade-off between data privacy and data quality, it is necessary to think closely about the latter. What is it that data analysts want? Acknowledging that data quality is a subjective concept, we develop a framework to evaluate the quality of differentially private synthetic data from an applied researcher's perspective. Data quality can be measured along two dimensions. First, quality of synthetic data can be evaluated against training data or against an underlying population. Second, the quality of synthetic data depends on general similarity of distributions or on performance for specific tasks such as inference or prediction. It is clear that accommodating all goals at once is a formidable challenge. We invite the academic community to jointly advance the privacy-quality frontier.


About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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