Beyond Worst-Case Analysis in Private Singular Vector Computation

Moritz Hardt, Aaron Roth

We consider differentially private approximate singular vector computation. Known worst-case lower bounds show that the error of any differentially private algorithm must scale polynomially with the dimension of the singular vector. We are able to replace this dependence on the dimension by a natural parameter known as the coherence of the matrix that is often observed to be significantly smaller than the dimension both theoretically and empirically. We also prove a matching lower bound showing that our guarantee is nearly optimal for every setting of the coherence parameter. Notably, we achieve our bounds by giving a robust analysis of the well-known power iteration algorithm, which may be of independent interest. Our algorithm also leads to improvements in worst-case settings and to better low-rank approximations in the spectral norm.