Cryptography

Vadhan, Salil, and Colin Jia Zheng. “Characterizing pseudoentropy and simplifying pseudorandom generator constructions.” In Proceedings of the 44th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC ‘12), 817-836. ACM, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version HistoryFull version posted as ECCC TR11-141.

We provide a characterization of pseudoentropy in terms of hardness of sampling: Let (\(X, B\)) be jointly distributed random variables such that \(B\) takes values in a polynomial-sized set. We show that \(B\) is computationally indistinguishable from a random variable of higher Shannon entropy given \(X\) if and only if there is no probabilistic polynomial-time \(S\) such that \((X, S(X))\) has small KL divergence from \((X, B)\). This can be viewed as an analogue of the Impagliazzo Hard- core Theorem (FOCS ‘95) for Shannon entropy (rather than min-entropy).

Using this characterization, we show that if \(f\) is a one-way function, then \((f(U_n), U_n)\) has “next-bit pseudoentropy” at least \(n + \log n\), establishing a conjecture of Haitner, Reingold, and Vadhan (STOC ‘10). Plugging this into the construction of Haitner et al., this yields a simpler construction of pseudorandom generators from one-way functions. In particular, the construction only performs hashing once, and only needs the hash functions that are randomness extractors (e.g. universal hash functions) rather than needing them to support “local list-decoding” (as in the Goldreich–Levin hardcore predicate, STOC ‘89).

With an additional idea, we also show how to improve the seed length of the pseudorandom generator to \(\tilde{O}(n^3)\), compared to \(\tilde{O}(n^4)\) in the construction of Haitner et al.

Mahmoody, Mohammad, Tal Moran, and Salil Vadhan. “Time-lock puzzles in the random oracle model.” In P. Rogaway, editor, Advances in Cryptology—CRYPTO ‘11, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6841:39-50. Springer-Verlag, 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A time-lock puzzle is a mechanism for sending messages “to the future”. The sender publishes a puzzle whose solution is the message to be sent, thus hiding it until enough time has elapsed for the puzzle to be solved. For time-lock puzzles to be useful, generating a puzzle should take less time than solving it. Since adversaries may have access to many more computers than honest solvers, massively parallel solvers should not be able to produce a solution much faster than serial ones.

To date, we know of only one mechanism that is believed to satisfy these properties: the one proposed by Rivest, Shamir and Wagner (1996), who originally introduced the notion of time-lock puzzles. Their puzzle is based on the serial nature of exponentiation and the hardness of factoring, and is therefore vulnerable to advances in factoring techniques (as well as to quantum attacks).

In this work, we study the possibility of constructing time-lock puzzles in the random-oracle model. Our main result is negative, ruling out time-lock puzzles that require more parallel time to solve than the total work required to generate a puzzle. In particular, this should rule out black-box constructions of such time-lock puzzles from one-way permutations and collision-resistant hash-functions. On the positive side, we construct a time-lock puzzle with a linear gap in parallel time: a new puzzle can be generated with one round of \({n}\) parallel queries to the random oracle, but \({n}\) rounds of serial queries are required to solve it (even for massively parallel adversaries).

Rothblum, Guy, and Salil Vadhan. “Are PCPs inherent in efficient arguments?Computational Complexity 19, no. 2 (2010): 265-304. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version HistorySpecial Issue on CCC '09.

Starting with Kilian (STOC ‘92), several works have shown how to use probabilistically checkable proofs (PCPs) and cryptographic primitives such as collision-resistant hashing to construct very efficient argument systems (a.k.a. computationally sound proofs), for example with polylogarithmic communication complexity. Ishai et al. (CCC ‘07) raised the question of whether PCPs are inherent in efficient arguments, and if so, to what extent. We give evidence that they are, by showing how to convert any argument system whose soundness is reducible to the security of some cryptographic primitive into a PCP system whose efficiency is related to that of the argument system and the reduction (under certain complexity assumptions).

Birrell, Eleanor, and Salil Vadhan. “Composition of zero-knowledge proofs with efficient provers.” In Daniele Micciancio, editor, Proceedings of the 7th IACR Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC ‘10), Lecture Notes on Computer Science, 5978:572-587. Springer-Verlag, 2010. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We revisit the composability of different forms of zero- knowledge proofs when the honest prover strategy is restricted to be polynomial time (given an appropriate auxiliary input). Our results are:

  1. When restricted to efficient provers, the original Goldwasser–Micali–Rackoff (GMR) definition of zero knowledge (STOC ‘85), here called plain zero knowledge, is closed under a constant number of sequential compositions (on the same input). This contrasts with the case of unbounded provers, where Goldreich and Krawczyk (ICALP ‘90, SICOMP ‘96) exhibited a protocol that is zero knowledge under the GMR definition, but for which the sequential composition of 2 copies is not zero knowledge.

     

  2. If we relax the GMR definition to only require that the simulation is indistinguishable from the verifier’s view by uniform polynomial-time distinguishers, with no auxiliary input beyond the statement being proven, then again zero knowledge is not closed under sequential composition of 2 copies.

     

  3. We show that auxiliary-input zero knowledge with efficient provers is not closed under parallel composition of 2 copies under the assumption that there is a secure key agreement protocol (in which it is easy to recognize valid transcripts). Feige and Shamir (STOC ‘90) gave similar results under the seemingly incomparable assumptions that (a) the discrete logarithm problem is hard, or (b) \(\mathcal{UP}\nsubseteq\mathcal{BPP}\) and one-way functions exist.
Chung, Kai-Min, Yael Kalai, and Salil Vadhan. “Improved delegation of computation using fully homomorphic encryption.” In T. Rabin, editor, Advances in Cryptology—CRYPTO ‘10, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6223:483-501. Springer-Verlag, 2010. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version HistoryFull version posted as Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 210/241.

Following Gennaro, Gentry, and Parno (Cryptology ePrint Archive 2009/547), we use fully homomorphic encryption to design improved schemes for delegating computation. In such schemes, a delegator outsources the computation of a function \({F}\) on many, dynamically chosen inputs \(x_i\) to a worker in such a way that it is infeasible for the worker to make the delegator accept a result other than \({F}(x_i)\). The “online stage” of the Gennaro et al. scheme is very efficient: the parties exchange two messages, the delegator runs in time poly\((\log{T})\), and the worker runs in time poly\((T)\), where \(T\) is the time complexity of \(F\). However, the “offline stage” (which depends on the function \(F\) but not the inputs to be delegated) is inefficient: the delegator runs in time poly\((T)\) and generates a public key of length poly\((T)\) that needs to be accessed by the worker during the online stage.

Our first construction eliminates the large public key from the Gennaro et al. scheme. The delegator still invests poly\((T)\) time in the offline stage, but does not need to communicate or publish anything. Our second construction reduces the work of the delegator in the offline stage to poly\((\log{T})\) at the price of a 4-message (offline) interaction with a poly\((T)\)-time worker (which need not be the same as the workers used in the online stage). Finally, we describe a “pipelined” implementation of the second construction that avoids the need to re-run the offline construction after errors are detected (assuming errors are not too frequent).

Haitner, Iftach, Minh Nguyen, Shien Jin Ong, Omer Reingold, and Salil Vadhan. “Statistically hiding commitments and statistical zero-knowledge arguments from any one-way function.” SIAM Journal on Computing 39, no. 3 (2009): 1153-1218. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version HistorySpecial Issue on STOC ‘07. Merge of papers from FOCS ‘06 and STOC ‘07. Received SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize 2011.

We give a construction of statistically hiding commitment schemes (those in which the hiding property holds against even computationally unbounded adversaries) under the minimal complexity assumption that one-way functions exist. Consequently, one-way functions suffice to give statistical zero-knowledge arguments for any NP statement (whereby even a computationally unbounded adversarial verifier learns nothing other than the fact that the assertion being proven is true, and no polynomial-time adversarial prover can convince the verifier of a false statement). These results resolve an open question posed by Naor et al. [J. Cryptology, 11 (1998), pp. 87–108].

Ong, Shien Jin, David Parkes, Alon Rosen, and Salil Vadhan. “Fairness with an honest minority and a rational majority.” In O. Reingold, editor, Proceedings of the Fourth Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC ‘09), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5444:36-53. Springer-Verlag, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version HistoryPreliminary version posted as Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 2008/097, March 2008.

We provide a simple protocol for secret reconstruction in any threshold secret sharing scheme, and prove that it is fair when executed with many rational parties together with a small minority of honest parties. That is, all parties will learn the secret with high probability when the honest parties follow the protocol and the rational parties act in their own self-interest (as captured by a set-Nash analogue of trembling hand perfect equilibrium). The protocol only requires a standard (synchronous) broadcast channel, tolerates both early stopping and incorrectly computed messages, and only requires 2 rounds of communication.

Previous protocols for this problem in the cryptographic or economic models have either required an honest majority, used strong communication channels that enable simultaneous exchange of information, or settled for approximate notions of security/equilibria. They all also required a nonconstant number of rounds of communication.

Dodis, Yevgeniy, Salil Vadhan, and Daniel Wichs. “Proofs of retrievability via hardness amplification.” In O. Reingold, editor, Proceedings of the Fourth Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC ‘09), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5444:109-127. Springer-Verlag, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version History: Originally presented at Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC) 2009. Full version published in Cryptology ePrint Archive (attached as ePrint2009).

Proofs of Retrievability (PoR), introduced by Juels and Kaliski [JK07], allow the client to store a file F on an untrusted server, and later run an efficient audit protocol in which the server proves that it (still) possesses the client’s data. Constructions of PoR schemes attempt to minimize the client and server storage, the communication complexity of an audit, and even the number of file-blocks accessed by the server during the audit. In this work, we identify several different variants of the problem (such as bounded-use vs. unbounded-use, knowledge-soundness vs. information-soundness), and giving nearly optimal PoR schemes for each of these variants. Our constructions either improve (and generalize) the prior PoR constructions, or give the first known PoR schemes with the required properties. In particular, we

  • Formally prove the security of an (optimized) variant of the bounded-use scheme of Juels and Kaliski [JK07], without making any simplifying assumptions on the behavior of the adversary.
  • Build the first unbounded-use PoR scheme where the communication complexity is linear in the security parameter and which does not rely on Random Oracles, resolving an open question of Shacham and Waters [SW08].
  • Build the first bounded-use scheme with information-theoretic security.

The main insight of our work comes from a simple connection between PoR schemes and the notion of hardness amplification, extensively studied in complexity theory. In particular, our im- provements come from first abstracting a purely information-theoretic notion of PoR codes, and then building nearly optimal PoR codes using state-of-the-art tools from coding and complexity theory.

Dwork, Cynthia, Moni Naor, Omer Reingold, Guy Rothblum, and Salil Vadhan. “On the complexity of differentially private data release: Efficient algorithms and hardness results.” In Proceedings of the 41st Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC ‘09), 381-390. ACM, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We consider private data analysis in the setting in which a trusted and trustworthy curator, having obtained a large data set containing private information, releases to the public a "sanitization" of the data set that simultaneously protects the privacy of the individual contributors of data and offers utility to the data analyst. The sanitization may be in the form of an arbitrary data structure, accompanied by a computational procedure for determining approximate answers to queries on the original data set, or it may be a "synthetic data set" consisting of data items drawn from the same universe as items in the original data set; queries are carried out as if the synthetic data set were the actual input. In either case the process is non-interactive; once the sanitization has been released the original data and the curator play no further role. For the task of sanitizing with a synthetic dataset output, we map the boundary between computational feasibility and infeasibility with respect to a variety of utility measures. For the (potentially easier) task of sanitizing with unrestricted output format, we show a tight qualitative and quantitative connection between hardness of sanitizing and the existence of traitor tracing schemes.
Haitner, Iftach, Omer Reingold, Salil Vadhan, and Hoeteck Wee. “Inaccessible entropy.” In Proceedings of the 41st Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC ‘09), 611-620. ACM, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We put forth a new computational notion of entropy, which measures the (in)feasibility of sampling high entropy strings that are consistent with a given protocol. Specifically, we say that the \(i\)’th round of a protocol \((\mathsf{A,B})\) has accessible entropy at most \(k\), if no polynomial-time strategy \(\mathsf{A}^*\) can generate messages for \(\mathsf{A}\) such that the entropy of its message in the \(i\)’th round has entropy greater than \(k\) when conditioned both on prior messages of the protocol and on prior coin tosses of \(\mathsf{A}^*\). We say that the protocol has inaccessible entropy if the total accessible entropy (summed over the rounds) is noticeably smaller than the real entropy of \(\mathsf{A}\)’s messages, conditioned only on prior messages (but not the coin tosses of \(\mathsf{A}\)). As applications of this notion, we

  • Give a much simpler and more efficient construction of statistically hiding commitment schemes from arbitrary one- way functions.

  • Prove that constant-round statistically hiding commitments are necessary for constructing constant-round zero-knowledge proof systems for NP that remain secure under parallel composition (assuming the existence of one-way functions).

Mironov, Ilya, Omkant Pandey, Omer Reingold, and Salil Vadhan. “Computational differential privacy.” In S. Halevi, editor, Advances in Cryptology—CRYPTO ‘09, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5677:126-142. Springer-Verlag, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The definition of differential privacy has recently emerged as a leading standard of privacy guarantees for algorithms on statistical databases. We offer several relaxations of the definition which require privacy guarantees to hold only against efficient—i.e., computationally-bounded—adversaries. We establish various relationships among these notions, and in doing so, we observe their close connection with the theory of pseudodense sets by Reingold et al.[1]. We extend the dense model theorem of Reingold et al. to demonstrate equivalence between two definitions (indistinguishability-and simulatability-based) of computational differential privacy.

Our computational analogues of differential privacy seem to allow for more accurate constructions than the standard information-theoretic analogues. In particular, in the context of private approximation of the distance between two vectors, we present a differentially-private protocol for computing the approximation, and contrast it with a substantially more accurate protocol that is only computationally differentially private.

Chailloux, André, Dragos Florin Ciocan, Iordanis Kerenidis, and Salil Vadhan. “Interactive and noninteractive zero knowledge are equivalent in the help model.” In Proceedings of the Third Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC '08), 4948:501-534. Springer-Verlag, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version History: 

  • Preliminary versions of this work previously appeared on the Cryptology ePrint Archive and in the second author’s undergraduate thesis.
  • Chailloux, A., Kerenidis, I.: The role of help in classical and quantum zero-knowledge. Cryptology ePrint Archive, Report 2007/421 (2007), http://eprint.iacr.org/
  • Ciocan, D.F., Vadhan, S.: Interactive and noninteractive zero knowledge coincide in the help model. Cryptology ePrint Archive, Report 2007/389 (2007), http://eprint.iacr.org/
  • Ciocan, D.: Constructions and characterizations of non-interactive zero-knowledge. Undergradute thesis, Harvard University (2007) 

We show that interactive and noninteractive zero-knowledge are equivalent in the ‘help model’ of Ben-Or and Gutfreund (J. Cryptology, 2003). In this model, the shared reference string is generated by a probabilistic polynomial-time dealer who is given access to the statement to be proven. Our results do not rely on any unproven complexity assumptions and hold for statistical zero knowledge, for computational zero knowledge restricted to AM, and for quantum zero knowledge when the help is a pure quantum state.

Ong, Shien Jin, and Salil Vadhan. “An equivalence between zero knowledge and commitments.” In R. Canetti, editor, Proceedings of the Third Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC ‘08), 4948:482-500. Springer Verlag, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We show that a language in NP has a zero-knowledge protocol if and only if the language has an “instance-dependent” commitment scheme. An instance-dependent commitment schemes for a given language is a commitment scheme that can depend on an instance of the language, and where the hiding and binding properties are required to hold only on the yes and no instances of the language, respectively.

The novel direction is the only if direction. Thus, we confirm the widely held belief that commitments are not only sufficient for zero knowledge protocols, but necessary as well. Previous results of this type either held only for restricted types of protocols or languages, or used nonstandard relaxations of (instance-dependent) commitment schemes.

Ong, Shien Jin, and Salil Vadhan. “Zero knowledge and soundness are symmetric.” In Advances in Cryptology–EUROCRYPT '07, 4515:187-209. Barcelona, Spain: Springer Verlag, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, M. Naor, ed. 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Version History: Recipient of Best Paper Award. Preliminary version posted on ECCC as TR06-139, November 2006.

We give a complexity-theoretic characterization of the class of problems in NP having zero-knowledge argument systems. This characterization is symmetric in its treatment of the zero knowledge and the soundness conditions, and thus we deduce that the class of problems in NP \(\bigcap\) coNP having zero-knowledge arguments is closed under complement. Furthermore, we show that a problem in NP has a statistical zero-knowledge argument \(\)system if and only if its complement has a computational zero-knowledge proof system. What is novel about these results is that they are unconditional, i.e., do not rely on unproven complexity assumptions such as the existence of one-way functions.

Our characterization of zero-knowledge arguments also enables us to prove a variety of other unconditional results about the class of problems in NP having zero-knowledge arguments, such as equivalences between honest-verifier and malicious-verifier zero knowledge, private coins and public coins, inefficient provers and efficient provers, and non-black-box simulation and black-box simulation. Previously, such results were only known unconditionally for zero-knowledge proof systems, or under the assumption that one-way functions exist for zero-knowledge argument systems.

Canetti, Ran, Ron Rivest, Madhu Sudan, Luca Trevisan, Salil Vadhan, and Hoeteck Wee. “Amplifying collision-resistance: A complexity-theoretic treatment.” In A. Menezes, editor, Advances in Cryptology (CRYPTO '07), 4622:264-283. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer-Verlag, 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We initiate a complexity-theoretic treatment of hardness amplification for collision-resistant hash functions, namely the transformation of weakly collision-resistant hash functions into strongly collision-resistant ones in the standard model of computation. We measure the level of collision resistance by the maximum probability, over the choice of the key, for which an efficient adversary can find a collision. The goal is to obtain constructions with short output, short keys, small loss in adversarial complexity tolerated, and a good trade-off between compression ratio and computational complexity. We provide an analysis of several simple constructions, and show that many of the parameters achieved by our constructions are almost optimal in some sense.

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