Thursday, April 30, 2015

Eurocrypt 2015 Rump Session

It was on a sunny evening that the rump session commenced. The call for presentations was one of the most convoluted one ever conceived in the history of IACR. The inevitable effect was a fair amount of confusion during the submission process, leading to a brilliant program.

Elisabeth Oswald (with Marc Fischlin loitering in the background) gave an insightful view in early perceptions of the new submission format and the use of parallel sessions. They had conducted a questionnaire among Eurocrypt authors and program committee members. One of the questions related to the submission page limit, should it be 20, 25, or 30? The responses were split between short and long, with very little support for the middlle. (One day later, during the membership meeting Cachin mentioned the Board had settled on 30 pages LNCS style.) Yvo Desmedt followed up with a plea to publish corrections to proofs etc. more prominently.

Christina Bruszka (with Marc Fischlin lurking in the background) presented the best future conference award to Jens Groth, who will be chairing the 15th IMA Conference on Cryptography and Coding. For most other events announcement slides were made available during the break. Of note were TCC 2016, which will take twice next year! To unclutter the cryptacademic calendar, the TCC community has decided to migrate their conference from February/March to November. The migration will be in steps, so next year TCC 2016-A will be in January in Tel Aviv (submission deadline will be 13th July with notification on October 2nd, roughly a week before Eurocrypt'16 submission). TCC 2016-B will take place later in the year (November or December). Another event worth noticing taking place next week already (at the TU Eindhoven, Netherlands) is Security in Times of Surveillance.

The final talk of the rump session was by Ivan Damgård (with Marc Fischlin substituted by little fish swimming about). He had conceived a new cryptosystem secure in the presence of powerful adversaries by cleverly inverting the paradigm used by quantum cryptography. There if you try to eavesdrop the message, you will destroy the message. The dual approach advocated by Ivan is that if you try to eavesdrop the message, the message will destroy you! I am always amazed how long it sometimes takes to find ideas that are so obvious in hindsight. This is definitely one of them. Ivan had found a way to implement his revolutionary idea by means of a recently discovered fish. There were still some minor niggles that would prevent imminent deployment (for instance, tampering with the ciphertext could lead to destruction of the legitimate receiver), but a very promising research direction nonetheless. Ivan won the Best Rump Award for his presentation, fully deserved in my opinion!

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