Spring 2019

Data Privacy: Foundations and Applications

Jan. 15May 17, 2019

This program aimed to advance core research on privacy and foster new collaborations between researchers who work on theoretical aspects of data privacy and those working in areas of potential applications.

A rigorous foundational approach to private data analysis has emerged in theoretical computer science in the last decade, with differential privacy and its close variants playing a central role. This approach was motivated by the vast amounts of personal information that are collected and analyzed by a wide range of institutions, as well as by numerous demonstrated failures of traditional statistical disclosure limitation paradigms, most notably de-identification. The resulting body of theoretical work draws from many scientific fields: statistics, machine learning, cryptography, algorithms, databases, information theory, economics, and game theory.

This research has begun to influence how privacy scholars think and argue about privacy and how sensitive data are treated in real-life applications. This process reinforces the need for further technical research on foundations of privacy and for an understanding of the technical, legal, social, and ethical issues that arise. This program brought together experts from across disciplines related to privacy — theoretical computer science, statistics, game theory, machine learning, databases, social science, and law — to share their knowledge, strengthen the connections between privacy-related research in these disciplines, and work on a wide-reaching interdisciplinary agenda involving technology and policy. The participants investigated basic privacy-related algorithmic, statistical, and complexity- and game-theoretic questions; studied barriers to implementing and using the products of theoretical research in privacy; and explored methodologies for bridging the gaps between mathematical approaches to privacy and approaches rooted in the law, social norms, and ethics.

This program was supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.



Adam Smith (Boston University; chair), Vitaly Feldman (Apple), Katrina Ligett (Hebrew University), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), Aleksandra Slavkovic (Pennsylvania State University)

Long-Term Participants (including Organizers):

Raef Bassily (Ohio State University), Amos Beimel (Ben Gurion University), Abhishek Bhowmick (Apple), Johannes Buchmann (TU Darmstadt), Elisa Celis (Yale University), John Duchi (Stanford University), Cynthia Dwork (Harvard University & Microsoft Research), Vitaly Feldman (Apple), Will Fithian (UC Berkeley), Marco Gaboardi (SUNY Buffalo), Abhradeep Guha Thakurta (UC Santa Cruz), Cristóbal Guzmán (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Moritz Hardt (UC Berkeley), Chris Jay Hoofnagle (UC Berkeley), Richard Karp (UC Berkeley), Frauke Kreuter (University of Maryland), Janardhan Kulkarni (Microsoft Research), Paul Laskowski (UC Berkeley), Katrina Ligett (Hebrew University), Mike Luby (Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.), Ilya Mironov (Google), Deirdre Mulligan (UC Berkeley), Moni Naor (Weizmann Institute of Science), Sasho Nikolov (University of Toronto), Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell Tech), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), Sofya Raskhodnikova (Boston University), Omer Reingold (Stanford University), Ryan Rogers (LinkedIn), Lalitha Sankar (Arizona State University), Anand Sarwate (Rutgers University), Or Sheffet (University of Alberta), Natalie Shlomo (University of Manchester), Aleksandra Slavkovic (Pennsylvania State University), Adam Smith (Boston University; chair), Kunal Talwar (Google), Jonathan Ullman (Northeastern University), Alexandra Wood (Harvard University), Steven Wu (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)

Research Fellows:

Mark Bun (Princeton University; Google Research Fellow), Rachel Cummings (Georgia Institute of Technology; Google Research Fellow), Gautam Kamath (Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Microsoft Research Fellow), Vishesh Karwa (Ohio State University; Patrick J. McGovern Research Fellow), Aleksandra Korolova (University of Southern California; VMware Research Fellow), Audra McMillan (Boston University; Patrick J. McGovern Research Fellow), Matthew Reimherr (Pennsylvania State University), Thomas Steinke (IBM Almaden; Patrick J. McGovern Research Fellow)

Visiting Graduate Students and Postdocs:

Brendan Avent (University of Southern California), Yahav Bechavod (Hebrew University), Albert Cheu (Northeastern University), Samantha Chiu (University of Maryland), Aloni Cohen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Alexander Edmonds (University of Toronto), Rebecca C. Fan (UC Berkeley), Gian Pietro Farina (University at Buffalo, SUNY), Jake Goldenfein (Cornell Tech), Nitin Kohli (UC Berkeley), Aaron Koolyk (Hebrew University), Rachel Lawrence (UC Berkeley), Yuliia Lut (Georgia Institute of Technology), Carlo Molinari (Pennsylvania State University), Anupama Nandi (Ohio State University), Marcel Neunhoeffer (University of Mannheim), Elizabeth O’Neill (Cornell Tech), Srinivasan Raghuraman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Adam Sealfon (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Moshe Shenfeld (Hebrew University), Vikrant Singhal (Northeastern University), Jacob Steinhardt (Stanford University), Ramesh Krishnan Pallavoor Suresh (Boston University), Om Thakkar (Boston University), Neil Vexler (Weizmann Institute of Science), Di Wang (University at Buffalo, SUNY), Yvonne Wang (Cornell Tech), Wanrong Zhang (Georgia Institute of Technology), Juba Ziani (Caltech)


Monday, Jan. 28Friday, Feb. 1, 2019


Adam Smith (Boston University; chair), Vitaly Feldman (Apple), Katrina Ligett (Hebrew University), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), Jonathan Ullman (Northeastern University)
Monday, Mar. 4Friday, Mar. 8, 2019


Marco Gaboardi (SUNY Buffalo; chair), Ashwin Machanavajjhala (Duke University), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), Natalie Shlomo (University of Manchester)
Thursday, Mar. 14Friday, Mar. 15, 2019


Lalitha Sankar (Arizona State University; chair)
Monday, Apr. 8Friday, Apr. 12, 2019


Anand Sarwate (Rutgers University; chair), Kamalika Chaudhuri (UC San Diego), Vitaly Feldman (Apple), Aleksandra Slavkovic (Pennsylvania State University), Adam Smith (Boston University)
Monday, May 6Friday, May 10, 2019


Katrina Ligett (Hebrew University; chair), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), Omer Reingold (Stanford University), Aaron Roth (University of Pennsylvania)
Monday, Mar. 14Friday, Mar. 18, 2022


Adam Smith (Boston University; chair), Vitaly Feldman (Apple), Katrina Ligett (Hebrew University), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), Aleksandra Slavkovic (Pennsylvania State University)



Past Internal Program Activities

Thursday, May 16th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Thursday, May 2nd, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Thursday, April 25th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, April 24th, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
Matthew Reimherr (Penn State)
Thursday, April 18th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, April 17th, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
John Duchi (Stanford)
Friday, April 5th, 10:00 am4:30 pm
Thursday, April 4th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, April 3rd, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
Uri Stemmer (Ben Gurion University)
Thursday, March 28th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Thursday, March 21st, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, March 20th, 2:00 pm3:00 pm
Deirdre Mulligan (UC Berkeley)
Thursday, March 14th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, March 13th, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
Kuang Xu (Stanford)
Thursday, March 7th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Thursday, February 28th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, February 27th, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
Alex Wood (Harvard)
Thursday, February 21st, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, February 20th, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
Steven Wu (cc'ed) from University of Minnesota
Thursday, February 14th, 11:00 am1:00 pm
Wednesday, February 13th, 1:00 pm3:00 pm
Vitaly Feldman, Google
Thursday, February 7th, 11:00 am1:00 pm