Oblivious RAM: From Theory to Large-Scale Real-World Deployment

Elaine Shi

In this talk, Elaine Shi (Carnegie Mellon) gives a brief tutorial of Oblivious RAM (ORAM) – a cryptographic primitive that hides memory access patterns as seen by untrusted storage. She then discusses how ORAM evolved from a theoretical concept to large-scale real-world deployment, and the emerging demands and use cases for ORAM in both the blockchain community and for traditional cloud service providers. She also discusses Signal’s deployment of Path ORAM over their billion-sized database, and how ORAM allowed them to cut their 500 servers down to 6. Finally, she describes a new initiative to build an open-source Oblivious STL library, which aims to provide an oblivious counterpart of the standard STL library.

About the speaker

Elaine is an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Before joining CMU, she taught at Cornell and the University of Maryland. Her research interests include cryptography, security, algorithms, mechanism design, and foundations of blockchains. She has won numerous awards including the Sloan Fellowship, the Packard Fellowship, the ONR YIP award, the NSA Best Science of Cybersecurity Paper award, and Cylab Distinguished Alumni Award. Her work on Oblivious RAM and privacy-preserving algorithms have been deployed at a large scale by companies like Signal, Google, and JP Morgan.

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