Hopes, Fears, and Software Obfuscation

Following the exciting paper of Garg, Gentry, Halevi, Raykova, Sahai and Waters, the world of cryptography has been ablaze with “obfuscation fever” with many  longstanding questions succumbing to obfuscation-based constructions. At the same time, our understanding of the computational assumptions required for these constructions is still very much incomplete (e.g., see these two recent works  and the references therein).  It seems like at the moment “indistinguishability obfuscation” occupies a brave new world beyond Impagliazzo’s cryptomania (a world that some may call “CryptoFantasia”…). Understanding where this assumption sits (and whether these two worlds can be collapsed) is one of the most exciting challenges facing cryptography today.

On that note, the Communication of the ACM just published a survey of mine on obfuscation (see also this preprint version). It is meant for a general (non theory or crypto) CS audience and is also (since it was submitted more than a year ago) not up to date on the very latest attacks, but I hope it can still be of interest. The CACM folks also shot a video of me talking about this, though unfortunately they edited out the most important part- the names of the people that actually did the work.


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