On The Foundations of Program Obfuscation

Thursday, March 1, 2018 -
4:00pm to 5:00pm
CS 1240

Speaker Name: 

Huijia (Rachel) Lin

Speaker Institution: 

UC Santa Barbara



Cookies Location: 

CS 1240



Program obfuscation is method for transforming (or “scrambling”) any computer program into one that is functionally equivalent, yet “unintelligible”. It not only promises to be a powerful tool for software protection, but has also reshaped the theory of cryptography in the last few years, with previously unimagined cryptographic applications, and additionally has intriguing application in complexity theory.

In this talk, I will explain why the existence of sound program obfuscation has remained elusive, and how my work has made the most significant progress in establishing its feasibility. Previous program obfuscation schemes all rely on the same algebraic structure called multilinear maps, which are highly complex and have no well-understood instantiations. My research has significantly weakened the algebraic structure needed for obtaining program obfuscation to just "trilinear maps"—bringing us "one step away" from the holy grail of basing program obfuscation on standard (and well-studied) cryptographic structures, such as, bilinear maps on elliptic curves.


Huijia (Rachel) Lin is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at UC Santa Barbara. She holds a PhD from Cornell University and has been a joint postdoc at MIT and Boston University prior to joining UCSB. Her work deals with the foundations of cryptography. She has been awarded the NSF CAREER Award, the Hellam Fellowship, the Microsoft PhD Research Fellowship, the best paper award at EUROCRYPT ‘18, and the best-paper honorable mention at EUROCRYPT ‘16.