COMS E6261:  Advanced Cryptography

Spring 2010: Data Privacy

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Project Information

Students should complete a research project on a cryptographic topic of your choice, subject to instructor approval. You are encouraged to work on the research project in groups of two, but individual or three-student projects are allowed, if called for by the project topic.  Suggested topics will be posted here, although anything that is related to the foundation of cryptography is likely to be appropriate.

The first stage of the project will consist of literature study of the selected area.  Based on that, you will then select a research problem or direction which you expect to make new progress in by the end of the semester.  I will be available to help you with both these stages, and expect to be updated about your progress throughout the semester.  You will be required to submit a short project proposal (before first stage) and a short midterm progress report (before the second stage), as well as a final report. Due dates:

More details on the project and possible topics below:

Proposal: The proposal should include the area that you want to investigate, the papers that you plan to read to that end, and your goals for the project. At this stage your goals may be vague and broad, though if you have very specific goals in mind, please include them in the proposal.

The scope (e.g how many papers have been published in the area to date, how many papers you need to read and understand for your project, and in what depth) may vary considerably, though we will try to guide students towards comparable amounts of work to complete the project.

Progress Report: In the second stage you will have to specify your goals much more clearly, typically in the form of a specific research problem you wish to resolve. Outline your planned approach towards satisfying these goals based on the progress you have made by studying the area. Your final project will have to be in-depth research into a well-defined problem (suggesting the problem and making it well defined is part of your job, though you're allowed and encouraged to discuss your ideas with the instructor).

Please notify us of your general area of choice as soon as you can. Several of the suggestions below can support more than one group (working on different subareas), but if several groups consider projects that overlap too much, the first group to request it will get priority.

For all the areas below, contact us for pointers to the important/latest papers in the area.

Final Report: Your final report will consist of a paper describing your new research result (including motivation and background), or, in case no new result was obtained, a literature survey, open problems, and description of why and where you got stuck, and what you learned from these obstacles, including a suggestion for the next research step.   

General Guidelines: In general there are two main goals for a project in this class:

(1) You should acquire a substantial body of knowledge about the topic of your project. This will involve closely and carefully reading literature on your specific project topic (likely to be several papers). You'll demonstrate this aspect of your project in the "background" section(s) of your project report, which should be a clear synthesis and exposition in your own words of what you learned.

(2) You should gain research experience in this area; i.e. make a serious effort to contribute to the state of knowledge on your project topic by (i) identifying an interesting open question or direction for future research related to your project topic; (ii) coming up with an approach to make progress; and (iii) working to carry out your approach. You'll demonstrate this aspect of your project by explaining in detail what you did for (i), (ii) and (iii) in the rest of your project report.

The ratio of (1) to (2) may vary between different projects. There are some projects that might involve relatively less background (but in that case you will be expected to spend more time -- and give more evidence of time well spent) -- on trying to make research progress; and there are other projects where you'll need to acquire more extensive background.

Suggested Topics: