CS7880: Rigorous Approaches to Data Privacy
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List of project ideas due by midnight on Friday, Feb 17th
Project proposal due by midnight on Friday, March 24th
- Final project report due Wednesday, April 26th at 11:59pm
- Project presentations Thursday, April 27th at noon in 366 WVH
The course will require you to do a research project. The project can take the form of new differentially private algorithms, with either theoretical or empirical analysis; systematic experiments with existing differentially private algoritms or attacks on privacy; a survey synthesizing multiple results in a novel way; an application of differential privacy to a new area; an application of a new area to differential privacy; and probably several other forms I haven't yet conceived of. Topics for the project are very open-ended, and I strongly encourage you to find something that intersects with your research.
Checkpoint 1: List of Project Ideas
You will submit a short list of two or three potential project topics that interest you. All I am expecting is one or two sentences per topic saying what the topic is, what format the project would take, and anything else you would like to elaborate on. For an example that is both really stupid, and does not involve DP (so that no one is tempted to use it): "Improved MapReduce algorithms using mappers sharing quantum entanglement. The project will involve building my own quantum computer, demonstrating that it achieves genuine quantum tunnelling, and evaluating its performance empirically."
You are not required to actually do your project on any of the topics you submit. This is just to get you thinking about the project, and give me a chance to give feedback and pointers about ideas you are excited about.
How should you think of a topic? Some suggestions:
- Think of connections to your research!
- Peruse the list of topics for the course on the syllabus.
- Peruse the reading for interesting subjects.
- Peruse my website for any papers of mine that catch your interest (flattery not required)
- Peruse the websites of other DP researchers. You can find names in the references in the reading, or just ask me. (If I post a non-exhaustive list here, someone is going to find it and get offended.)
Checkpoint 2: Project Proposal
You will submit a 1-2 page project proposal. The proposal should contain the following:
- A clear statement of the problem you want to solve.
- What relevant research papers (or material from the readings) have you read and plan to build on?
- What form will the final project take? New theorems? Implementation and experiments? A mix of both?
- What progress do you hope to make on the project?
- What is your backup plan if you run into obstacles?
You do not need to have specific sections of the proposal addressing these questions. You can organize the proposal any way you like, as long as it answers each of these questions.
Final Project Report
Your final report must contain the following components:
- An introduction explaining the problem(s) you chose to study.
- A clear, concise statement of your contributions.
- Discussion of relevant background material and related work, which can be incorporated into your introduction, a standalone section, or some mix of the two.
- Technical sections describing the contributions in more detail. These should be relatively self-contained, although you may assume basic definitions and facts from class, such as the definition of differential privacy or the composition theorem. The specifics of these sections can vary depending on your specific contributions, so it's hard to give concrete rules.
- A conclusion summarizing your contributions and providing discussion of the next steps you would take. Even if you do not plan to continue your project, thinking about the next steps you would take is an important part of any research.
You may format your report any way you like, as long as it is reasonably easy to read. Because projects will vary in density, depending on the relative amounts of text, math, and charts, there is no absolute page limit. As a general guide, I am picturing something about half the length of a typical conference submission, so about 5 pages of two-column ACM format, or about 10 pages of "standard" format (one column, single spaced, 11 pt font, 1" margins). If you have lengthy calculations or charts, you may turn in a longer report, but may want to consider putting this material in an appendix. If your contributions can be explained very concisely, then you can turn in less. As always, use your judgment, try to be concise, and ask me questions if you are unsure.
Final Project Presentation
There are only a few specific rules for formatting the presentation, mostly I just have some advice for how to give a good presentation. Feel free to discuss with me as you are preparing your presentations.
- (Requirement) Presentations will be 20 minutes. I will cut you off at 20 minutes, and I will not penalize you if your presentation is a bit shorter.
- (Requirement) You must have slides for this presentation. These slides are to make sure that the talk is well organized and has been planned in advance. I will not explicitly grade the slides, so they do not have to be polished, and you may use the board for certain parts of the presentation as appropriate.
- (Advice) My father would frequently give me the following piece of folksy advice, which I will now inflict on you: "Tell them what you are going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you told them." In other words, make sure your talk has a clear outline, and make sure to repeat the key points you want people to remember.
- (Advice) 20 minutes is not a long time!
- (Advice) As you would with a seminar or conference presentation, you should not assume that your audience knows too much. However, unlike a seminar or conference presentation, you can assume that your audience knows the high level ideas discussed in class. You may, however, want to remind people of the finer points.
The components of the project grade will be
- List of project ideas (5%)
- Project proposal (15%)
- Final project report (50%)
- Project presentation (30%)