Coupled Relational Symbolic Execution for Differential Privacy
Gian Pietro Farina, Stephen Chong, and Marco Gaboardi
European Symposium on Programming (ESOP), March 2021.

Differential privacy is a de facto standard in data privacy with applications in the private and public sectors. Most of the techniques that achieve differential privacy are based on a judicious use of randomness. However, reasoning about randomized programs is difficult and error prone. For this reason, several techniques have been recently proposed to support designer in proving programs differentially private or in finding violations to it.

In this work we propose a technique based on symbolic execution for reasoning about differential privacy. Symbolic execution is a classic technique used for testing, counterexample generation and to prove absence of bugs. Here we use symbolic execution to support these tasks specifically for differential privacy. To achieve this goal, we design a relational symbolic execution technique which supports reasoning about probabilistic coupling, a formal notion that has been shown useful to structure proofs of differential privacy. We show how our technique can be used to both verify and find violations to differential privacy.