Finite Sample Guarantees of Differentially Private Expectation Maximization Algorithm

Di Wang, Jiahao Ding, Lijie Hu, Zejun Xie, Miao Pan, Jinhui Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


(Gradient) Expectation Maximization (EM) is a widely used algorithm for estimating the maximum likelihood of mixture models or incomplete data problems. A major challenge facing this popular technique is how to effectively preserve the privacy of sensitive data. Previous research on this problem has already lead to the discovery of some Differentially Private (DP) algorithms for (Gradient) EM. However, unlike in the non-private case, existing techniques are not yet able to provide finite sample statistical guarantees. To address this issue, we propose in this paper the first DP version of Gradient EM algorithm with statistical guarantees. Specifically, we first propose a new mechanism for privately estimating the mean of a heavy-tailed distribution, which significantly improves a previous result in [25], and it could be extended to the local DP model, which has not been studied before. Next, we apply our general framework to three canonical models: Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM), Mixture of Regressions Model (MRM) and Linear Regression with Missing Covariates (RMC). Specifically, for GMM in the DP model, our estimation error is near optimal in some cases. For the other two models, we provide the first result on finite sample statistical guarantees. Our theory is supported by thorough numerical experiments on both real-world data and synthetic data.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications
StatePublished - Sep 28 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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