Time+Place: Wednesday 30/12/2015 14:30 Room 337-8 Taub Bld.
Title: Program Obfuscation: The Power of Unreadable Code
Speaker: Nir Bitansky - CS-Lecture - Note unusual day https://sites.google.com/site/nirbitansky/
Affiliation: CSAIL M I T
Host: Eyal Kushilevitz

Abstract:

The purpose of obfuscation is to recompile programs in a way that 
preserves their functionality but hides associated secret information, 
such as secret keys or passwords used by the programs. Envisioned by 
Diffie and Hellman already in the 70's as a means of obtaining 
public-key encryption, it is known by now that this concept may have far 
reaching implications to cryptography and complexity theory. In 
particular, program obfuscation suggests (often exclusive) solutions to 
some of the most challenging privacy and security problems in the age of 
cloud computing and social networks.

At the same time, program obfuscation has turned out to be  an evasive 
goal to achieve, or to even meaningfully define. For a long time, 
solutions have been confined to heuristics, whereas attempts to achieve 
any sense of provable security have mostly led to impossibility results. 
This gloomy state dramatically changed in recent years, when it was 
shown that a relatively weak notion called indistinguishability 
obfuscation may be within reach (so far, based on strong computational 
assumptions) and still has the potential of realizing many dream 
applications.

In this talk, I will review the different aspects of obfuscation, 
including central notions, limitations, and feasibility. As a 
demonstration of the power of obfuscation, I will present a recent 
implication [Bitansky-Paneth-Rosen, FOCS15] that goes beyond 
cryptography into a fundamental problem in complexity and algorithmic 
game theory --- the hardness of finding a Nash equilibrium. I will 
conclude with the main open problems and challenges in the area of
obfuscation.   

Short Bio:
Nir Bitansky is a postdoctoral associate at MIT CSAIL. He earned his 
Ph.D. in computer science from Tel Aviv University. His research is 
centered around cryptography and its interplay with complexity theory.