Private Information Retrieval

Sennur Ulukus's full lecture at the 2020 European School of Information Theory Stuttgart, Germany


Private information retrieval (PIR) refers to the problem of retrieving a file (a message) out of M messages from N distributed databases in such a way that no individual database can tell which message has been retrieved, hence the name, “private” information retrieval. PIR has originated in the computer science literature in late 1990s and has been revisited by the information theory community recently. Information-theoretic reformulation of the problem defines the “PIR capacity” as the largest number of bits that can be retrieved privately per download, equivalently, the smallest number of downloads needed per bit of privately retrieved information. In this talk, I will describe the problem, summarize break-through results in the history of the problem, and present some recent results. The talk will be self-contained; no prior information is needed.

Sennur Ulukus is a Professor of  Electrical and Computer Engineering  at the  University of Maryland  at College Park, where she also holds a joint appointment with the  Institute for Systems Research (ISR) . Prior to joining UMD, she was a Senior Technical Staff Member at  AT&T Labs-Research . She received her Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from  Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB) ,  Rutgers University , and B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from  Bilkent University . Her research interests are in wireless communications, information theory, signal processing, and networks, with recent focus on private information retrieval, timely status updates over networks, energy harvesting communications, information theoretic physical layer security, and wireless energy and information transfer. Dr. Ulukus is a fellow of the IEEE, and a  Distinguished Scholar-Teacher  of the University of Maryland. She received the 2003  IEEE Marconi Prize Paper Award in Wireless Communications , an 2005 NSF CAREER Award, the 2010-2011 ISR Outstanding Systems Engineering Faculty Award, and the 2012 ECE George Corcoran Education Award. She is a  Distinguished Lecturer of the Infomation Theory Society  for 2018-2019. She is on the Editorial Board of the IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking since 2016. She was an Editor for the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications–Series on Green Communications and Networking (2015-2016), IEEE Transactions on Information Theory (2007-2010), and IEEE Transactions on Communications (2003-2007). She was a Guest Editor for the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (2015 and 2008), Journal of Communications and Networks (2012), and IEEE Transactions on Information Theory (2011). She was a general TPC co-chair of  2017 IEEE ISIT ,  2016 IEEE Globecom ,  2014 IEEE PIMRC , and 2011 IEEE CTW .