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BIFOLD Colloquium 04/2024


May 02, 2024 Icon 15:00 - 16:00


Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135, Mainbuilding, Room H3005, 3rd Floor


Prof. Amr El Abbadi

"Challenges and Practical Approaches for Private and Scalable Information Data Management Systems"

Prof. Amr El Abbadi, University of California, Santa Barbara

Abstract: Increasingly countries and regions have strict laws and regulations to protect the privacy of personal data. For example, the states of the European Union (EU) enforce the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to protect personal data of individuals living in the EU. Much research has focused on preserving the privacy of data using various advanced cryptographic techniques. However, and irrespective of the privacy of the data itself, just the queries requesting the data raise severe privacy concerns owing to numerous attacks and data breaches using access patterns. Our goal in this talk is to demonstrate how private access of data, using sophisticated, expensive but secure cryptographic methods can become a practical reality in the near future. Our focus is on supporting oblivious queries and thus hide any associated access patterns on both private and public data. For private data, ORAM (Oblivious RAM) is one of the most popular approaches for supporting oblivious access to encrypted data. However, most existing ORAM datastores are not fault tolerant and hence an application may lose all of its data when failures occur. To achieve fault tolerance, we propose QuORAM, the first datastore to provide oblivious access and fault-tolerant data storage using a quorum-based replication protocol.  For public data, PIR (Private Information Retrieval) is the main mechanism proposed in recent years.  However, PIR requires the server to consider data as an array of elements and clients retrieve data using an index into the array. This requirement limits the use of PIR in many practical settings, especially for key-value stores, where the client may be interested in a particular key, but does not know the exact location of the data at the server. In this talk we will discuss recent efforts to overcome these limitations, using Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE), to improve the performance, scalability and expressiveness of privacy preserving queries of public data. 

Curriculum Vitae: Amr El Abbadi is a Computer Science Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his B. Eng. from Alexandria University, Egypt, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. His research interests are in the fields of fault-tolerant distributed systems and databases, focusing recently on Cloud data management, blockchain based systems and privacy concerns. Prof. El Abbadi is an ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow, and IEEE Fellow. He was Chair of the Computer Science Department at UCSB from 2007 to 2011. He served as Associate Graduate Dean at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 2021--2023. He has served as a journal editor for several database journals, including, The VLDB Journal, IEEE Transactions on Computers and The Computer Journal. He has been Program Chair for multiple database and distributed systems conferences, including most recently SIGMOD 2022. He currently serves on the executive committee of the IEEE Technical Committee on Data Engineering (TCDE) and was a board member of the VLDB Endowment from 2002 to 2008. In 2007, Prof. El Abbadi received the UCSB Senate Outstanding Mentorship Award for his excellence in mentoring graduate students. In 2013, his student, Sudipto Das received the SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award. Prof. El Abbadi is also a co-recipient of the Test of Time Award at EDBT/ICDT 2015. He has published over 350 articles in databases and distributed systems and has supervised over 40 PhD students.