SecretFlow-SPU: A Performant and User-Friendly Framework for Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning


Junming Ma, Yancheng Zheng, Jun Feng, Derun Zhao, Haoqi Wu, Wenjing Fang, Jin Tan, Chaofan Yu, Benyu Zhang, and Lei Wang, Ant Group


With the increasing public attention to data security and privacy protection, privacy-preserving machine learning (PPML) has become a research hotspot in recent years. Secure multi-party computation (MPC) that allows multiple parties to jointly compute a function without leaking sensitive data provides a feasible solution to PPML. However, developing efficient PPML programs with MPC techniques is a great challenge for users without cryptography backgrounds.

Existing solutions require users to make efforts to port machine learning (ML) programs by mechanically replacing APIs with PPML versions or rewriting the entire program. Different from the existing works, we propose SecretFlow-SPU, a performant and user-friendly PPML framework compatible with existing ML programs. SecretFlow-SPU consists of a frontend compiler and a backend runtime. The frontend compiler accepts an ML program as input and converts it into an MPC-specific intermediate representation. After a series of delicate code optimizations, programs will be executed by a performant backend runtime as MPC protocols. Based on SecretFlow-SPU, we can run ML programs of different frameworks with minor modifications in a privacy-preserving manner.

We evaluate SecretFlow-SPU with state-of-the-art MPC-enabled PPML frameworks on a series of ML training tasks. SecretFlow-SPU outperforms these works for almost all experimental settings (23 out of 24). Especially under the wide area network, SecretFlow-SPU is up to 4.1× faster than MP-SPDZ and up to 2.3× faster than TF Encrypted.

USENIX ATC '23 Open Access Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

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This content is available to:

@inproceedings {288747,
author = {Junming Ma and Yancheng Zheng and Jun Feng and Derun Zhao and Haoqi Wu and Wenjing Fang and Jin Tan and Chaofan Yu and Benyu Zhang and Lei Wang},
title = {{SecretFlow-SPU}: A Performant and {User-Friendly} Framework for {Privacy-Preserving} Machine Learning},
booktitle = {2023 USENIX Annual Technical Conference (USENIX ATC 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-35-9},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {17--33},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul

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