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Invitation To A Talk by Prof. Salim El Rouayheb, Ph.D., Rutgers University, USA

20 December 2017, 02:00 p.m.
Room MAR 0.003, Marchstr. 23, 10587 Berlin
Private Information Retrieval in the Time of Collusions

ABSTRACT: Private Information Retrieval (PIR) allows users to query and search online data without revealing their queries and thus ensuring their privacy and protecting them from possible discrimination and persecution. The literature on PIR,  starting originally in the CS community and recently in the IT community, has predominantly focused on schemes achieving privacy in the information theoretical sense due in part to the computational efficiency of the resulting schemes. However, these schemes require querying several servers that are not supposed to collude (or with restriction on how many can collude). The collusion assumption can be challenging to guarantee in practice (servers are typically owned by the same company),  and raises doubts on the  applicability of PIR, which can trump their mathematical beauty. 

I will talk about  two recent attempts to address the collusion conundrum. First, we propose to study PIR in peer-to-peer (p2p)  systems, in which collusion is limited because peers are volunteers who believe in the privacy cause, except a number of them who act as spies. In this scenario, data reliability becomes also a prominent concern, which can be alleviated using codes. So, I will talk about construction of PIR schemes that can query coded data. Second, we propose to leverage side information available at the user to design efficient single-server PIR scheme that do not require downloading all the data at the server. I will conclude with open problems. 

BIO: Salim El Rouayheb is an assistant professor in the ECE Department at Rutgers University. From 2013 to 2017, he was an assistant professor at the ECE Department at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. He was a research scholar at the EE Department at Princeton University (2012-2013) and a postdoc at the EECS department at the University of California, Berkeley (2010-2011). He received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University, College Station, in 2009. During Summer 2006, he was an intern at the Mathematics of Communication Research Department at Bell Labs. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2016, the Texas Telecommunication Engineering Consortium (TXTEC) Graduate Fellowship in 2005 and the Charlie S. Korban award for outstanding graduate student in 2004. His research interests lie in the area of information theoretic security and privacy of data in networks and distributed storage systems.

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