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How to Keep your Genome Secret

Tuesday, April 18, 4-5 PM, Blocker 149

Over the last 10 years, the cost of sequencing the human genome has come down to around $1,000 per person. Human genomic data is a gold-mine of information, potentially unlocking the secrets to human health and longevity. As a society, we face ethical and privacy questions related to how to handle human genomic data. Should it be aggregated and made available for medical research? What are the risks to an individual’s privacy? This talk will describe a mathematical solution for securely handling computation on genomic data, and highlight the results of a recent international contest in this area. The solution uses “Homomorphic Encryption”, based on hard problems in number theory related to lattices. This application highlights the importance of a new class of hard problems in number theory to be solved.

Short Bio for Kristin Lauter

Kristin Lauter is a Principal Researcher and Research Manager for the Cryptography group at Microsoft Research. She directs the group’s research activities in theoretical and applied cryptography and in the related math fields of number theory and algebraic geometry. Her personal research interests include algorithmic number theory, elliptic curve, pairing-based, and lattice-based cryptography, homomorphic encryption, and cloud security and privacy, including privacy for healthcare.

Lauter is currently serving as President of the Association for Women in Mathematics, and on the Council of the American Mathematical Society. She was selected to be a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2014. She is on the Editorial Board for the SIAM Journal on Applied Algebra and Geometry (SIAGA), Journal of Mathematical Cryptology, and International Journal of Information and Coding Theory. She was a co-founder of the Women In Numbers Network, a research collaboration community for women in number theory, and she serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for BIRS, the Banff International Research Station. Lauter is also an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Washington. She received her BA, MS, and PhD, all in mathematics, from the University of Chicago, in 1990, 1991, and 1996, respectively. She was T.H. Hildebrandt Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan (1996-1999), and a Visiting Scholar at Max Planck Institut fur Mathematik in Bonn, Germany (1997), and at Institut de Mathematiques Luminy in France (1999). In 2008, Lauter, together with her coauthors, was awarded the Selfridge Prize in Computational Number Theory.

About the Maxson Lectures

The Dr. Carl “C.J.” Maxson Endowed Lecture Series honors Professor Emeritus Carl Maxson, a member of the Texas A&M Mathematics Faculty from 1969 until his retirement in 2002, and was established in October 2005 by Dr. Ponnamal Natarajan ’74, Maxson’s first doctoral student and the first woman ever to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Texas A&M (an all-male university until 1963). This annual event features experts in areas of current interest in algebra, number theory, and theoretical computer science.