ERC Starting Grant for research in next level cryptographic protocols
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Associate Professor Claudio Orlandi from the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University a starting grant worth €1.5M for research into private and efficient secure multiparty computation (MPC).
More and more data is collected and stored every day. This data is an incredible resource: by analyzing the data we can discover new knowledge and advance society. On the other hand, all this data represent a liability, as data can leak and end up in the hands of individuals with bad intentions.
MPC is a cryptographic technology that allows to solve the struggle between utility and privacy by allowing users to compute on “encrypted values”. Thanks to MPC, mutually distrusting parties can compute any joint function of their private inputs in a way that preserves the confidentiality of the inputs and the correctness of the result. For instance, two individuals could learn who is the richest without having to disclose their wealth to each other. Examples of MPC applications include secure auctions, benchmarking, privacy-preserving data mining, etc.
The key word in Claudio Orlandi’s research is efficient.
In the last decade, the efficiency of MPC has improved significantly and these advances have allowed several companies worldwide to begin implementing and including MPC solutions in their products.
MPC has reached the wall
However, the efficiency of MPC is still far from what would be necessary for this promising technology to become used in every day’s computations.
“It now appears, that we have reached a wall with respect to possible optimizations of current building blocks of MPC, which prevents MPC to be used in critical large-scale applications,” Claudio Orlandi explains.
He believes that a radical paradigm shift in MPC research is needed in order to make MPC truly practical.
Thanks to this ERC Starting Grant, Claudio Orlandi intends to take a step back and challenge current assumptions in MPC research and design novel MPC solutions. His hypothesis is that taking MPC to the next level will require more realistic modelling of the way that security, privacy and efficiency are defined and measured.
“The special thing about an ERC Starting Grant,” continues Claudio, “is that it provides the researcher with a very high degree of freedom, which is necessary to follow potentially risky but promising, research directions. The keyword is high-risk and high-reward.”
Associate Professor Claudio Orlandi
Department of Computer Science
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