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Preserving Positivity (and other Constraints?) in Released Microdata Alan Karr 12/2/05

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Problem O = original microdata –Constrained to satisfy o ij >= 0 for all data records i and (some or all) attributes j Want masked data release M that –Satisfies same positivity constraints –Has high utility –Has low disclosure risk

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Motivating Example O = original data M 1 = MicZ applied to O –Conceptually, data have shrunk D = O – M 1 N = normally distributed noise with –Mean 0 –Cov(N) = Cov(D) M 2 = M 1 + N –Works well for utility and risk –Does not preserve positivity

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Which Methods Preserve Positivity? MethodYes/NoComments Mic*YesEdge effects may be significant SwappingYes Additive noiseNo, in general Noise distributions that preserve positivity induce edge effects TransformationNo, in general Synthetic dataPossibleIf model preserves positivity

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The Problem with Mic*

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Some (1/2, ¼, 1/1048576)-Wit Ideas Transform data to remove constraints (e.g., take logs), do SDL on transformed data, and untransform –Microaggregation becomes weighted –How to choose noise distribution? Use rejection sampling for additive noise –M+N|M+N>= 0 –Does it restore full covariance?

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More Ideas Microaggregation with weights: move points near edges less –May be bad for risk –No longer preserves first moments Linear transformation, if constraint satisfied (Mi-Ja) –M = {T(x): T(x) >= 0} {x: T(x) not >=0} ?????

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Other Questions More complex constraints –x 1 <= x 2 (time precedence; net income <= gross) –x 1 + x 2 <= x 3 –Are all convexity-like constraints alike? Multiple constraints –Methods need to be scalable Soft constraints

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