Symmetric Boolean Factor Analysis with Applications to InstaHide

Sitan Chen, Zhao Song, Runzhou Tao, Ruizhe Zhang

In this work we examine the security of InstaHide, a recently proposed scheme for distributed learning (Huang et al.). A number of recent works have given reconstruction attacks for InstaHide in various regimes by leveraging an intriguing connection to the following matrix factorization problem: given the Gram matrix of a collection of m random k-sparse Boolean vectors in {0,1}^r, recover the vectors (up to the trivial symmetries). Equivalently, this can be thought of as a sparse, symmetric variant of the well-studied problem of Boolean factor analysis, or as an average-case version of the classic problem of recovering a k-uniform hypergraph from its line graph. As previous algorithms either required m to be exponentially large in k or only applied to k = 2, they left open the question of whether InstaHide possesses some form of "fine-grained security" against reconstruction attacks for moderately large k. In this work, we answer this in the negative by giving a simple O(m^{\omega + 1}) time algorithm for the above matrix factorization problem. Our algorithm, based on tensor decomposition, only requires m to be at least quasi-linear in r. We complement this result with a quasipolynomial-time algorithm for a worst-case setting of the problem where the collection of k-sparse vectors is chosen arbitrarily.

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