[Cs-affiliates] New Seminar Course this Fall - CAS CS 591 B2 Secure Multi-Party Computation at Scale

Devits, Christopher R cdevits at bu.edu
Wed Sep 7 09:00:39 EDT 2016

Dear CS grads and instructors – we are pleased to announce a late addition to the Fall 2016 class schedule. Below is the description for an additional topics course, CAS CS 591 B2, taught by a team of instructors.

Please consider registering if the course sounds of interest, and feel free to contact any of the instructors with questions. Note the course meets in the Hariri Seminar Room, MCS 180. Please also circulate the course description to colleagues in other departments and programs that may be interested.



CAS CS 591 X1 Secure Multi-Party Computation at Scale
The ubiquity of big data along with modern distributed and cloud computing infrastructures makes it possible to leverage data assets from a variety of sources in order to compute large-scale analytics that serve decision-makers and the public good. A major hurdle to unleashing this potential is the need to trust the entity that gathers the data. Secure Multi-Party Computation (MPC) relies on cryptographic constructs to overcome this hurdle by allowing computation to be performed in a way that reveals only the output result, and reveals nothing about the input or intermediate values used in the computation other than what can be derived from the output. Secure MPC has been an active area of research for over 30 years, with many theoretical results and software artifacts. While fast enough to use today on small-scale data, MPC faces three key challenges that inhibit adoption at scale: the high learning curve of developing private analytics, the challenge of connecting private analytics to existing data stacks, and the inability to balance the privacy and performance provided by the analytic.
This team-taught course aims to prepare/recruit students interested in pursuing research that tackle these challenges by focusing on the deployment of state-of-the-art MPC technologies toward applications with important economic and social justice benefits, such as pay equity, economic stability of the banking system, market diversity to detect monopolies, and distributed network anomaly detection. The course leverages active research and real systems developed at BU by the team of instructors and their students.
We will first review in a lecture/reading group format the mathematical and algorithmic foundations of different MPC frameworks and systems. Next, we will also review some real-world instances of MPC deployment and the associated challenges. Finally, we will break up into project-oriented teams who will set up and deploy MPC systems by applying them to real-world or real-world-inspired data analysis problems. In particular, students will be expected to develop expertise in the use of one or more of the existing MPC libraries/APIs/systems that have been developed over the last few years, leading each student or small groups of students to a course project that will either use these existing MPC capabilities to tackle a large-scale big-data analytics problem, or else integrate these capabilities into the backend of popular big-data analytics platforms. Projects ideas from students that complement and/or augment those proposed by the instructors are welcome!

·         Required: Basics of number theory, abstract algebra, and probability theory for CS applications (covered in CS-235 and CS-237).

·         Required: Experience with building non-trivial multi-module applications in a modern programming language (such as Python, C, Java, and so on).

·         Not required, but good to have: Familiarity with or interest in distributed/cloud systems (covered in CS-350 or CS-451) and basics of cryptography and net security (covered in CS-538 or CS-558).

·         Time: Monday 3:00-5:00pm (in addition to smaller project group meetings arranged separately)

·         Place: MCS-180 (at the Hariri Institute)

·         Azer Bestavros (networking and cloud computing)

·         Ran Canetti (crypto foundations)

·         Andrei Lapets (formal systems and programming languages)

·         Mayank Varia (crypto applications)

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