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# A Pretty Fast Algorithm for Adaptive Private Mean Estimation

*Proceedings of Thirty Sixth Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 195:2511-2551, 2023.

#### Abstract

We design an $(\varepsilon, \delta)$-differentially private algorithm to estimate the mean of a $d$-variate distribution, with unknown covariance $\Sigma$, that is adaptive to $\Sigma$. To within polylogarithmic factors, the estimator achieves optimal rates of convergence with respect to the induced Mahalanobis norm $||\cdot||_\Sigma$, takes time $\tilde{O}(n d^2)$ to compute, has near linear sample complexity for sub-Gaussian distributions, allows $\Sigma$ to be degenerate or low rank, and adaptively extends beyond sub-Gaussianity. Prior to this work, other methods required exponential computation time or the superlinear scaling $n = \Omega(d^{3/2})$ to achieve non-trivial error with respect to the norm $||\cdot||_\Sigma$.