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# A Unified Characterization of Private Learnability via Graph Theory

*Proceedings of Thirty Seventh Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 247:94-129, 2024.

#### Abstract

We provide a unified framework for characterizing pure and approximate differentially private (DP) learnability. The framework uses the language of graph theory: for a concept class $\mathcal{H}$, we define the contradiction graph $G$ of $\mathcal{H}$. Its vertices are realizable datasets and two datasets $S,S’$ are connected by an edge if they contradict each other (i.e., there is a point $x$ that is labeled differently in $S$ and $S’$). Our main finding is that the combinatorial structure of $G$ is deeply related to learning $\mathcal{H}$ under DP. Learning $\mathcal{H}$ under pure DP is captured by the fractional clique number of $G$. Learning $\mathcal{H}$ under approximate DP is captured by the clique number of $G$. Consequently, we identify graph-theoretic dimensions that characterize DP learnability: the \emph{clique dimension} and \emph{fractional clique dimension}. Along the way, we reveal properties of the contradiction graph which may be of independent interest. We also suggest several open questions and directions for future research.