Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jun Zhang


Data are valuable assets to any organizations or individuals. Data are sources of useful information which is a big part of decision making. All sectors have potential to benefit from having information. Commerce, health, and research are some of the fields that have benefited from data. On the other hand, the availability of the data makes it easy for anyone to exploit the data, which in many cases are private confidential data. It is necessary to preserve the confidentiality of the data. We study two categories of privacy: Data Value Hiding and Data Pattern Hiding. Privacy is a huge concern but equally important is the concern of data utility. Data should avoid privacy breach yet be usable. Although these two objectives are contradictory and achieving both at the same time is challenging, having knowledge of the purpose and the manner in which it will be utilized helps. In this research, we focus on some particular situations for clustering and classification problems and strive to balance the utility and privacy of the data.

In the first part of this dissertation, we propose Nonnegative Matrix Factorization (NMF) based techniques that accommodate constraints defined explicitly into the update rules. These constraints determine how the factorization takes place leading to the favorable results. These methods are designed to make alterations on the matrices such that user-specified cluster properties are introduced. These methods can be used to preserve data value as well as data pattern. As NMF and K-means are proven to be equivalent, NMF is an ideal choice for pattern hiding for clustering problems. In addition to the NMF based methods, we propose methods that take into account the data structures and the attribute properties for the classification problems. We separate the work into two different parts: linear classifiers and nonlinear classifiers. We propose two different solutions based on the classifiers. We study the effect of distortion on the utility of data.

We propose three distortion measurement metrics which demonstrate better characteristics than the traditional metrics. The effectiveness of the measures is examined on different benchmark datasets. The result shows that the methods have the desirable properties such as invariance to translation, rotation, and scaling.