CS 290G: Advanced Topics in Cryptography (Spring 2016)

Instructor: Huijia (Rachel) Lin, rachel.lin(at)cs(dot)ucsb(dot)edu

Class time and location: MW 11:00am-12:15pm, Phelps 2510

Office hours: Wed 4:30-5:30pm or by appointment, HFH 1153

Class webpage: http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~rachel.lin/courses/16s290G/

Course Description

This class is meant to open to you research in Cryptography, both theoretical and applied. To do so, the class will involve reading research papers, reviewing them, discussing them, and doing a project.

Course Set-ups and Requirements: At the beginning of the course, I will give some lectures on the bare basics of cryptography for 4 lectures.

Next, the class will move to reading research papers. In each class, we will read one or two papers. Two students will be assigned as the lead, who will be responsible in understanding the papers thoroughly (collaboration is recommended), and do the following:

  • Write down reviews for the papers, which summarize and evaluate the papers. The review must be typed using Latex and submitted 12 hours before the class on Piazza.
  • Prepare and give together a 1 hour presentation of the papers (you can use the board, but slides are recommended). There is no restriction on the forms of presentation. You can present sequentially, each 30 minutes, or act a play together, or anything else.
  • Lead a discussion in the remaining 30 minutes of the class about the strength and weakness of the paper, and open questions following the paper.
Other students in class are expected to read the paper and the review written by the lead students before the class, come with questions and participate in discussions of the paper.

What papers will we read? There are many exciting research directions in theoretical and applied cryptography, such as, the following ones and many others.

  • Crypto Currency (BitCoin)
  • Program Obfuscation
  • Computing over encrypted data
  • Verifiable Computation (SNARK)
  • Cryptographic protocols (Multi-party computation, TLS/SSL)
  • Password-based Cryptography
Clearly, it is impossible to cover all topics in crypto in one class. So we will only sample some papers to read.

I will publish an initial list of papers of my choice. But you should also contribute to the list. One first task to you is contributing to the list, by the end of the second week, as many papers you recommend, and at least one. You can find interesting papers on cryptography in top crypto venues (EuroCrypt, Crypto, TCC) or in top security venues (Security and Privacy, Usenix Security, CCS, NDSS). You do not need to be restrcted to the topics mentioned above, but the paper must be related to crypto.

Assignment of lead students Then I will pick a subset of the papers from our list and assign two lead students to papers. You can swap assigned papers between youselves, as long as, both parties agree. You need to report back to me which papers you are the lead for by the end of the third week. We have 10 classes for paper reading. This means suppose there are 10 students in class, each student will be lead twice. If there are more students, we will assign more lead students per class.

Projects Another component of the class is project. You can form teams of two for the project. There are two milestones.

  • By the end of the 6th week, you need to decide on your project, and submit to me the slides of a pitch of 10 mins about what your project is and why it is a meaningful project. Then, each group will present their pitch at the beginning of the class, in the following weeks.
  • By the middle of the final week, you need to hand in the final report.
Some examples of the flavors of projects are: 1. Implementing a crypto system you read about. 2. Benchmarking some existing crypto schemes/protocols. 3. Surveying a topic in cryptography. 4. Extending one of the papers we talked about/you read about.

Final assessment will depend on a combination of presentation 35%, in-class participation 15%, and final project 50%.


This will be filled when we finalize the assignment of papers.

WeekDateLecture contentsFormat
1 2016-03-28
  • Cancelled, Nexus of Information and Computation Theories
  • Cancelled, Nexus of Information and Computation Theories
2 2016-04-04
  • Overview of modern cryptography
2016-04-06 Basics II
  • Computational Indistinguishability
  • Pseudo-random functions
  • Pseudo-random generator
Lecture Contribute to Paper List
3 2016-04-11 Basics III
  • Secret-Key Encryption
  • Message Authentication
2016-04-13 Basics IV
  • Public-key encryption
  • RSA, ElGamal
  • Signature Scheme
Lecture Finalize Lead Assignment
  • Wei/Pratik On the (im)possibility of obfuscating programs
Student Presentation
  • Shiyu/Binyi Homomorphic encryption from learning with errors: Conceptually-simpler, asymptotically-faster, attribute-based.
Student Presentation
  • Pedro/Xiaohe Mining Your Ps and Qs: Detection of Widespread Weak Keys in Network Devices
Student Presentation
  • Alex/Haleigh Get your hands off my laptop: Physical Side-Channel Key-Extraction Attacks on PCs
Student Presentation
  • Priyanka Naik/Pritha Subversion-Resilient Signatures: Definitions, Constructions and Applications
Student Presentation
  • Ankita/Ben SoK: Research Perspectives and Challenges for Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies.
  • Haleigh/Alex The Ring of Gyges: Investigating the Future of Criminal Smart Contracts.
Student Presentation Project Proposal
72016-05-09Cancelled, EUROCRYPT
2016-05-11Cancelled, EUROCRYPT
  • Ben Turner/Ankita Hawk: The Blockchain Model of Cryptography and Privacy-Preserving Smart Contracts
  • Project pitches
Student Presentation
  • Binyi/Shiyu Proofs of space
  • Project pitches
Student Presentation
  • Pritha/Priyanka SoK: Secure Messaging
  • Project pitches
Student Presentation
  • Pratik/Wei Differential Privacy and Basic Techniques
  • Project pitches
Student Presentation
102016-05-30Holiday, Class Cancelled
  • Xiaohe/Pedro A Unified Framework for the Analysis of Side-Channel Key Recovery Attacks
  • Eric SIGMA: the 'SIGn-and-MAc' Approach to Authenticated Diffie-Hellman and its Use in the IKE Protocols
Student Presentation
112016-06-08No Class Final Report Due