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ESE Grace Hopper Lecture – “A Communications Perspective on Digital Privacy”

November 2, 2021 at 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Many of the activities in cyberspace, from social networking to the use of mobile apps, leave digital footprints compromising the users’ privacy.  As digital tracking technologies become more sophisticated and pervasive, there is a need to understand and quantify the users’ privacy risk, that is, what is the likelihood that users in cyberspace can be uniquely identified from their activities?

In this talk, we focus on de-anonymization attacks, where publicly and privately available information about users, represented as connectivity graphs, are leveraged to compromise user identities. We model the de-anonymization attack as a graph matching  problem in which  we have two correlated stochastic graphs the first of which has labeled vertices, whereas the second one is unlabeled. The goal is to recover the labels of the second graph by using the correlation structure. We explore how graph matching can be posed as a communications problem, and tools from information theory, communication theory and probability can be used to derive theoretical guarantees and algorithms for graph matching, thereby providing a framework for quantifying the privacy risk of users in the cyberspace.

Elza Erkip

Institute Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at New York University

Elza Erkip is an Institute Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at New York University Tandon School of Engineering. She received the B.S. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.  Her research interests are in information theory, communication theory, and wireless communications.

Dr. Erkip is a member of the Science Academy of Turkey and is a Fellow of the IEEE. She received the NSF CAREER award in 2001, the IEEE Communications Society WICE Outstanding Achievement Award in 2016, and the IEEE Communications Society Communication Theory Technical Committee (CTTC) Technical Achievement Award in 2018. Her paper awards include the IEEE Communications Society Stephen O. Rice Paper Prize in 2004,  the IEEE Communications Society Award for Advances in Communication in 2013 and  the IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award in 2019.  She was a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Information Theory Society 2012-2020, where she was the President in 2018.   She was a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Information Theory Society from 2013 to 2014.

Dr. Erkip has had many editorial and conference organization responsibilities. Some recent ones include IEEE International Conference on Communications, Communications Theory Symposium Technical Co-Chair in 2021; IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Information Theory Guest Editor in 2021; Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers, MIMO Communications and Signal Processing Track Chair in 2017; IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference Technical Co-Chair in 2017; IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications Guest Editor in 2015; and IEEE International Symposium of Information Theory General Co-Chair in 2013.


November 2, 2021
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Electrical and Systems Engineering
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Raisler Lounge (Room 225), Towne Building
220 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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