Coded Machine Unlearning

IEEE Access Journal (IEEE Access)


There are applications that may require removing the trace of a sample from the system, e.g., a user requests their data to be deleted, or corrupted data is discovered. Simply removing a sample from storage units does not necessarily remove its entire trace since downstream machine learning models may store some information about the samples used to train them. A sample can be perfectly unlearned if we retrain all models that used it from scratch with that sample removed from their training dataset. When multiple such unlearning requests are expected to be served, unlearning by retraining becomes prohibitively expensive. Ensemble learning enables the training data to be split into smaller disjoint shards that are assigned to non-communicating weak learners. Each shard is used to produce a weak model. These models are then aggregated to produce the final central model. This setup introduces an inherent trade-off between performance and unlearning cost, as reducing the shard size reduces the unlearning cost but may cause degradation in performance. In this paper, we propose a coded learning protocol where we utilize linear encoders to encode the training data into shards prior to the learning phase. We also present the corresponding unlearning protocol and show that it satisfies the perfect unlearning criterion. Our experimental results show that the proposed coded machine unlearning provides a better performance versus unlearning cost trade-off compared to the uncoded baseline.

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