Privacy-Preserving Algorithmic Recourse.


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When individuals are subject to adverse outcomes from machine learning models, providing a recourse path to help achieve a positive outcome is desirable. Recent work has shown that counterfactual explanations - which can be used as a means of single-step recourse - are vulnerable to privacy issues, putting an individuals' privacy at risk. Providing a sequential multi-step path for recourse can amplify this risk. Furthermore, simply adding noise to recourse paths found from existing methods can impact the realism and actionability of the path for an end-user. In this work, we address privacy issues when generating realistic recourse paths based on instance-based counterfactual explanations, and provide PrivRecourse: an end-to-end privacy preserving pipeline that can provide realistic recourse paths. PrivRecourse uses differentially private (DP) clustering to represent non-overlapping subsets of the private dataset. These DP cluster centers are then used to generate recourse paths by forming a graph with cluster centers as the nodes, so that we can generate realistic - feasible and actionable - recourse paths. We empirically evaluate our approach on finance datasets and compare it to simply adding noise to data instances, and to using DP synthetic data, to generate the graph. We observe that PrivRecourse can provide paths that are private and realistic.
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