TRUST matters

June 2024

ACM Summer School on Cryptography

This June, IITB Trust Lab partnered with ACM India to offer an intensive two-week dive into the world of cryptography. Around 60 students from across India explored everything from foundational concepts to cutting-edge techniques. Discover what they learned, who taught them, and what they thought about the school.

From June 3rd to 13th, 2024, the IITB Trust Lab, in collaboration with ACM India, hosted an intensive Summer School on “Theoretical Foundations of Cryptography.” This school, building on the success of the ACM Summer School 2022 and Aptos Winter School 2023, attracted over 550 applicants from top institutions across India, including IITs, NITs, IISc and IISERs.

From this large pool, around 60 students with diverse academic backgrounds were selected to form the ACM Summer School cohort. The program covered a comprehensive range of topics in modern cryptography, starting with the fundamentals of symmetric-key and public-key cryptography, and advancing to more complex subjects like SNARKs and Zero-Knowledge Proofs. Hands-on sessions using software tools complemented the theoretical lectures, providing a balanced learning experience.

The school featured a distinguished faculty from both industry and academia. Industry experts Mr. Nishant Chandran from Microsoft Research and Mr. Sikhar Patranabhis from IBM Research led sessions on basic information-theoretical tools and secure communications.

Notable instructors from the academia included Prof. Chaya Ganesh from IISc, who focused on proof systems, and Prof. Venkata Koppula from IITD, who delved into applied MPC and advanced cryptographic primitives.

There was also significant participation from IITB Trust Lab’s associated faculty members. While Prof. Manoj Prabhakaran discussed secure multi-party computation, Prof. Sruthi Sekar and Prof. Chethan Kamath covered public-key encryption and signatures, with Professor Kamath also introducing fully-homomorphic encryption. Prof. Saravanan Vijayakumaran explored practical proof systems.

The Summer School structure combined lectures with tutorial sessions, offering hands-on problem-solving experiences. On the final day, a special session on career options in cryptography provided valuable insights for students considering a future in this field.

An unexpected highlight was a surprise visit from Ms. Tulika Pandey, Scientist ‘G’ & Senior Director at the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India. Her interaction with the students added a real-world perspective to the academic discussions.

Participants shared enthusiastic feedback about the program.

Thaksha Ganesh from PES University, Bengaluru, highlighted the impact of the lectures: “Prof. Kamath’s lectures were excellent. Prof. Manoj Prabhakaran’s lectures were very inspiring. The sessions really helped me understand the foundation of cryptography.”

Nimit Jain, an undergraduate in Energy Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi, found the experience eye-opening: “This summer school got me interested in cryptography. I made lots of good friends with PhD and Master’s students. I will recommend the Summer School to many young researchers.”

The positive feedback from this year’s ACM Summer School is an inspiration for IITB Trust Lab to continue the series. As digital security continues to grow in importance, initiatives such as the ACM Summer School play a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of cryptography experts in India.