Philipp Jovanovic


October 12, 2015, Philipp Jovanovic

After 10 years at the University of Passau, it is time for me to leave its halls and close this chapter of my life. This saddens me quite a bit since I have many great memories connected to this institution where I completed my studies and soon (hopefully) my PhD. Moreover, the small Bavarian city of Passau with its three rivers resting right at the border to Austria is a wonderful place to call home. The region around Passau is also where I grew up and where all of my family and most of my friends live. However, with one chapter closing another opens up and I am more than excited about the path lying ahead.

On November 1st, 2015, I will be starting my new position as a post-doctoral researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. There I will join the newly established Decentralized and Distributed Systems Lab (DEDIS) lead by Prof. Bryan Ford who also switched only recently to EPFL coming from the DeDiS group at Yale. I am really thankful for the chance to further follow a path as a researcher and enthusiastic about the opportunity to work at such a highly regarded scientific facility. Working in the DEDIS team means that I will be shifting my focus a little bit away from symmetric cryptography towards other research areas, such as privacy, which are rather new to me but definitely not less interesting. Some of the projects Bryan and his team are working on include:

  • Dissent, a novel tool for providing online anonymity, which does not rely on onion routing like Tor to achieve its goal but instead uses techniques based on the dining cryptographers problem and verifiable shuffles. Interestingly, the methods below Dissent and Tor seem to exclude each other by no means. Quite the contrary, it seems that they can be combined to obtain even greater benefits. Check out this recent article for an overview.
  • Cothorities, derived from collective authorities, which are a recent proposal to remove single point of failures from authority systems through decentralisation with the aim to increase general robustness and decrease vulnerability against malicious entities. One potential application are certificate cothorities, a proposal to strengthen the Internet’s certificate authority system whose fragility could be witnessed time and again over the past years.
  • The DEDIS crypto library, which provides advanced cryptographic constructions such as threshold signature schemes, is an essential piece of technology to realise the above tools.

There are plenty of possibilities to investigate interesting research problems in the fields of security, privacy and cryptography at this group and, at the same time, also develop practical solutions. Moreover, with the LASEC and LACAL groups being just around the corner, there seem to be more than enough opportunities for further collaborations.

The changes in research fields are not the only ones however: since Lausanne lies in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, I will also get the chance to learn a new language. Beyond the simple bonjour and au revoir, I don’t speak a single word of French so far, a shortcoming that will change hopefully rather quickly.

In any case, the times ahead will be full of new challenges and I am looking forward to all of them with a thrill of anticipation.

À bientôt en Suisse1!

  1. I guess Google Translate will become a good friend of mine. [return]