Stabilizing Inputs to Approximated Nonlinear Functions for Inference with Homomorphic Encryption in Deep Neural Networks

Moustafa AboulAtta, Matthias Ossadnik, Seyed-Ahmad Ahmadi

Leveled Homomorphic Encryption (LHE) offers a potential solution that could allow sectors with sensitive data to utilize the cloud and securely deploy their models for remote inference with Deep Neural Networks (DNN). However, this application faces several obstacles due to the limitations of LHE. One of the main problems is the incompatibility of commonly used nonlinear functions in DNN with the operations supported by LHE, i.e. addition and multiplication. As common in LHE approaches, we train a model with a nonlinear function, and replace it with a low-degree polynomial approximation at inference time on private data. While this typically leads to approximation errors and loss in prediction accuracy, we propose a method that reduces this loss to small values or eliminates it entirely, depending on simple hyper-parameters. This is achieved by the introduction of a novel and elegantly simple Min-Max normalization scheme, which scales inputs to nonlinear functions into ranges with low approximation error. While being intuitive in its concept and trivial to implement, we empirically show that it offers a stable and effective approximation solution to nonlinear functions in DNN. In return, this can enable deeper networks with LHE, and facilitate the development of security- and privacy-aware analytics applications.

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