All office hours are in the CSE Building, EBU3B.

Position Name Email Office Hours
Instructor Mihir Bellare mihir at eng dot ucsd dot edu Th 1:00-2:00 in Room 4244

Lecture Notes

Lecture notes are available here: Lectures on NIZKs. These notes are in a state of constant flux and may be frequently updated. It is best to be looking at the latest, which is why having an Internet-accessing device with you in class is recommended. Last update: 3:00pm February 25, 2020.

Course Information

This class is an introduction to Non-Interactive Zero-Knowledge (NIZK) proofs. We bring to this topic a concrete (as opposed to asymptotic) security perspective. Definitions are formulated concretely. Reduction-based results state, and strive to improve, concrete security. This treatment is important for applications and implementations, where one needs a way to pick parameters to ensure a desired level of security, and to maximize efficiency subject to achieving a particular level of security. But beyond that NIZKs (and ZK proofs in general) are fascinating objects and an excellent training-gym for developing your crypto muscles.

Please bring to class some device (laptop, tablet, ...) on which you can access the above lecture notes. It will often be difficult to write games, and everything else we need, on the whiteboard, and I will rely on our being able to look at the content on our devices, and discuss it in class.

This class is at the boundary between a regular course and research. The content includes both things that are new and things that are in the literature, and even when we cover the literature we present it quite differently. There is some degree of exploration, which brings with it some degree of uncertainity that may, at first, be disconcerting, but will with time, hopefully, be exciting and empowering. You move from the standard educational setting, where definitions and results are made for you by others, to asking why they should be one way not the other, and making up your own. You are expected to develop critical thinking. Your will not just learn, but evaluate knowledge, see weaknesses, propose and undertake improvements and advances. You will see that knowledge is not fixed, but socially constructed. At times we will look directly at papers in the literature and compare with the lecture notes, the intent being that you learn how to read papers.

Course requirements may include some number of homeworks and grading of a homework. The course grade depends on these and a discretionary component that is influenced by class participation, outside-class interactions, or other elements that, as the term indicates, are at the instructor's discretion. Homework problems may be ambiguous, which may at first frustrate those used to ones from regular courses, but the ambiguity is to some extent intentional, and I don't necessarily know the best answers or have something in mind that I am seeking. It is asking you to make choices about what is a good question and and defend them. It is asking you to make choices about what is a good answer, and to define and limit the scope of your answer.