On the Relation between Differential Privacy and Quantitative Information Flow

  • Mário S. Alvim
  • Miguel E. Andrés
  • Konstantinos Chatzikokolakis
  • Catuscia Palamidessi
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6756)


Differential privacy is a notion that has emerged in the community of statistical databases, as a response to the problem of protecting the privacy of the database’s participants when performing statistical queries. The idea is that a randomized query satisfies differential privacy if the likelihood of obtaining a certain answer for a database x is not too different from the likelihood of obtaining the same answer on adjacent databases, i.e. databases which differ from x for only one individual.

Information flow is an area of Security concerned with the problem of controlling the leakage of confidential information in programs and protocols. Nowadays, one of the most established approaches to quantify and to reason about leakage is based on the Rényi min entropy version of information theory.

In this paper, we analyze critically the notion of differential privacy in light of the conceptual framework provided by the Rényi min information theory. We show that there is a close relation between differential privacy and leakage, due to the graph symmetries induced by the adjacency relation. Furthermore, we consider the utility of the randomized answer, which measures its expected degree of accuracy. We focus on certain kinds of utility functions called “binary”, which have a close correspondence with the Rényi min mutual information. Again, it turns out that there can be a tight correspondence between differential privacy and utility, depending on the symmetries induced by the adjacency relation and by the query. Depending on these symmetries we can also build an optimal-utility randomization mechanism while preserving the required level of differential privacy. Our main contribution is a study of the kind of structures that can be induced by the adjacency relation and the query, and how to use them to derive bounds on the leakage and achieve the optimal utility.


Graph Structure Shannon Entropy Channel Matrix Information Leakage Gain Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mário S. Alvim
    • 1
  • Miguel E. Andrés
    • 1
  • Konstantinos Chatzikokolakis
    • 1
  • Catuscia Palamidessi
    • 1
  1. 1.INRIA and LIX, Ecole PolytechniqueFrance

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