On the `Semantics' of Differential Privacy: A Bayesian Formulation

Shiva Prasad Kasiviswanathan, Adam Smith
Arxiv ID: 0803.3946Last updated: 1/24/2023
Differential privacy is a definition of "privacy'" for algorithms that analyze and publish information about statistical databases. It is often claimed that differential privacy provides guarantees against adversaries with arbitrary side information. In this paper, we provide a precise formulation of these guarantees in terms of the inferences drawn by a Bayesian adversary. We show that this formulation is satisfied by both "vanilla" differential privacy as well as a relaxation known as (epsilon,delta)-differential privacy. Our formulation follows the ideas originally due to Dwork and McSherry [Dwork 2006]. This paper is, to our knowledge, the first place such a formulation appears explicitly. The analysis of the relaxed definition is new to this paper, and provides some concrete guidance for setting parameters when using (epsilon,delta)-differential privacy.

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