Keeping Secrets from a Mind-Reading Adversary


Date Thursday May 5th 2016
Time 5:00-6:30pm (5:00-6:00 presentation and Q&A, followed by networking until 6:30)
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

Imagine that someone captures your brain, and then proceeds to read and tamper with every neuron in your brain — all while you are thinking about a secret that you want to protect. Is any security possible against such a strong adversary?

Fortunately, this scenario remains science fiction when applied to humans. But this situation is all too common when we replace humans with computers: software that dictates the behavior of computers is routinely captured and analyzed by adversarial entities. 

This is a problem that has vexed researchers for decades. In this talk, we’ll discuss recent research that has for the first time opened up mathematical approaches to solving this problem.


Professor Amit Sahai received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 2000. From 2000 to 2004, he was on the faculty at Princeton University. In 2004 he joined UCLA, where he currently holds the position of Professor of Computer Science. His research interests are in security and cryptography, and theoretical computer science more broadly.

He is the co-inventor of "Attribute-Based Encryption, Functional Encryption, and Indistinguishability Obfuscation." He has published more than 100 original technical research papers at venues such as the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC), CRYPTO, and the Journal of the ACM. He has given a number of invited talks at institutions such as MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley, including the 2004 Distinguished Cryptographer Lecture Series at NTT Labs, Japan.

Professor Sahai is the recipient of numerous honors. He was named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow in 2002, received an Okawa Research Grant Award in 2007, a Xerox Foundation Faculty Award in 2010, a Google Faculty Research Award in 2010, and a 2012 Pazy Memorial Award. He was also awarded the 2016 Lockheed Martin Excellence in Teaching Award. His research has been covered by several news agencies including the BBC World ServiceQuanta MagazineWired, and IEEE Spectrum.

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