Seminar: Hot Topics in Privacy Enhancing Technologies

Seminar in Fall 2015 Semester, Computer Science, Purdue University

Instructor: Dr. Aniket Kate
Course Number:CS 69000 (CRN 17241)
Timeslot:Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 to 2:45 pm
Place: Beering Hall B202
Contact Email:
Piazza Link:


Privacy is a fundamental human right and privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) help to support this right. In light of worldwide electronic data protection laws, PETs play a fundamental role in the design and development of information systems.

This seminar course focuses on the privacy concerns in the digital age and PETs designed to mitigate those concerns. We will cover some recent and important papers in topics such as

  • Privacy for cryptocurrencies and payment networks
  • Differential privacy
  • Anonymous communication networks
  • Censorship circumvention techniques
  • Metadata privacy
  • Privacy Policies
  • Genome privacy

Requirement for Obtaining Credit Points (Short Summary)

  • Prepare and give 45-minute presentations for your selected two papers.
  • Write reviews for four (above two papers and two other) pre-assigned papers.
  • Attend and actively participate in the paper discussions moderated by the presenters. If you are ill, let us know in advance.
  • Prepare a short proposal and 5-page report for your project.
  • Prepare and give a short presentation for your project.
You can also earn bonus points by performing better than expected in class discussions, your paper-reviews or your project. For more details see Course Structure below.

Note that for project ideas possibly leading to publications with more efforts, it is possible to extend them after the seminar in the form of research theses. We expect to generate at least two-three publications from the course, and encourage students to put more efforts towards their projects. back to top

Course Structure

The seminar will primarily consist of reading, reviewing, and presenting research papers and working on a small research project. Your grade in the course depends upon the following four task:
TaskPercentage (tentative)
Twp Paper Presentations40%
Four Paper Reviews10%
Class Participation10%
Course Project40%

Paper Presentation

A paper is assigned to each class period. Each paper will be presented to the class by one student in a 45-minute presentation. The student presenting the paper will then lead the class in a discussion, taking 60 minutes for the presentation and discussion in total. We will also save five minutes during this period to give a constructive feedback to the presenter. All students are encouraged to read both of the papers before the class.


Every student is required to review the presented papers plus two additional papers. The reviews are due two days before the corresponding paper is presented.


Students are expected to work in pairs on an original research project on some privacy topic. Each pair will submit a proposal to the instructor by a pre-decided date. Students will be provided some feedback on their proposals in two weeks after that. At the end of class period, they will present their proposal/work to the class with a short presentation.

In addition, by the end of the semester, they will produce a 5-page report describing their project. It is also possible to make a group of different sizes; however, the expectations may vary accordingly.

Bonus Points

You can also earn bonus points by performing better than expected in class discussions, your paper-reviews or your project. An exact bonus point structure will be available soon.

Presentation Schedule

Every paper is presented by one student, and is reviewed by two students (including the presenter).

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Useful Links

  • Organizational Meeting Slides: [PDF]
  • A nice article about paper reading: How To Read a Paper by S. Keshav [PDF]
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