Topics in Encrypted Systems / Spring 2022

Course Description

The growing area of encrypted systems combines cryptographic advancements with systems so that the overall design can compute directly on ciphertexts without decrypting. Encrypted systems ensure privacy in settings where users outsource the computation on their sensitive data to third-party machines, e.g., cloud service. This class has three modules each of which covers a different encrypted system technology. The first module focuses on encrypted databases, the second on encrypted systems, and the third on metadata hiding systems. Before each module, we will cover the cryptographic primitives that are needed for the research papers. Participants are expected to read the assigned research papers, present a paper in class, and deliver a final project tailored to their interests.


Students will learn some basic cryptographic primitives used in state-of-the-art applied cryptography. Students will learn how the above cryptographic primitives are used in a context of a system. Students will gain an understanding of the value of cryptographic designs that are inspired by real-world needs.

Course Requirements

No prerequisites. CS 583 and CS 487/587 are recommended, but not required. This seminar is based on research papers. My goal, is that students gain a basic understanding of the material, and some enthusiasm for this active research area. I encourage students to ask a lot of questions.


Each student will give one 45 minute presentation on an assigned paper during the semester. The instructor will provide a list of papers from which the students can choose from (see the papers listed in the “Student Presentations” lectures). Here is some useful advice on how to give a good research talk.


Each student will propose a project in the area. There are two types of projects for his class: (1) “SoK (Systematization of Knowledge) projects” where the goal is to get a deeper understanding of a specific family of problems, and (2) “Regular projects” where the goal is for you to get experience doing research by working on open problems; it must be a problem that is of interest to you. I will gladly provide directions and ideas to get you started.

Each project proposal will be submitted to the instructor and will receive feedback and pointers from recently published papers. The instructor will set specific goals for each project and at the end of the semester each student will submit a workshop style paper typed in LaTex This is a great LaTex reference. The depth and the requirements of each project will be adjusted based on the level of each student. Each student will give a 15 minute presentation of the project findings. Group projects are possible after coordinating with the instructor.

Useful Tips

Here is some advice on how to read a research paper: (1)“How to Read a Paper” (2)“How to read a research paper”.


Paper Summary: 20%

Paper Presentation: 30%

Final Project: 45%

Participation: 5%


Class: Monday, 4:30-7:10 PM, Krug Hall 242

Office Hours (Instructor): By appointment, Research Hall 352