Credit: Rudolf Grillborzer12.04.2021
Exploring the "ultimate limits"
Guest contribution by Brain City Ambassador Dr.-Ing. Onur Günlü, research group leader and lecturer at the Information Theory and Applications Chair of the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin).
Consider the fundamental wireless communication question: “How much information can be transmitted over a medium reliably from a point A to point B?" This fundamental question was not even thought of before a genius called Claude E. Shannon realized that this is the right question to ask as a wireless communication engineer. He answered the question in a single paper in 1948. He applied many tricks to obtain the ultimate limit for wireless communications, but probably the most novel trick was to remove the “semantic meaning” of the information that should be transmitted.
This actually means that it suffices to represent any information by the amount of uncertainty in it that is measured by the metric called “Entropy”. For instance, the messages “I want to eat an apple” and “I want to get vaccinated” might have the same entropy values, so then the amount of information in each sentence would be the same. Due to this fundamental trick, Shannon was able to provide the ultimate limit for wireless communications and single-handedly established a new research area called “Information Theory”. The ultimate limit for wireless communications over a noisy channel is defined as the “Channel Capacity”. One can consider the channel capacity as the maximum achievable dependency between the transmitted and received information. If the channel capacity increases, more information can be transmitted reliably from a point A (transmitter) to point B (receiver) over a noisy channel. Moreover, the channel capacity does not depend on the semantic meaning of the transmitted information. Each sentence is represented be using, e.g., binary digits (bits), regardless of what it means.
An international collaboration project, named “Optimal Code Constructions for Private and Secure Function Computations”, between Dr. Onur Günlü (TU Berlin & Brain City Berlin), Prof. Matthieu Bloch (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), and Prof. Rafael F. Schaefer (University of Siegen, Germany) is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinsschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) to stimulate cooperation between the cities Berlin, Atlanta, and Siegen. All partners have an information theoretic security background, and the partners from Germany focus more on the practical code design (TU Berlin) and adversarial (Uni Siegen) perspectives, whereas the partner from the US focuses more on the quantum-inspired asymptotically optimal constructions. He designs optimal methods for regular communication systems, such as wireless communication, by drawing inspirations from security methods proposed for quantum key distribution (QKD). The common goal of all project partners: to provide digital security and privacy in a provable way. With the genuine aim to provide provable digital security and privacy, the partners decided to initiate collaborations. The main question to be answered via this collaboration is: “How should one compute functions in a network with security and privacy guarantees?”
There are numerous applications where such a security and privacy related question is asked, including the new hot topics such as distributed Machine Learning (ML) and Internet-of-Things (IoT) networks with smart sensors. As an information theory project, the first collaboration steps are taken to define the problem at hand in such a way that it can be solved optimally. This means that by following Shannon’s methodology, the project partners are removing the “nonessential” complications of the real-world applications in such a way that when the ultimate limits are obtained, the complications can be inserted back to the problem to extend the obtained results.
Why is this collaboration important beyond scientific curiosity and the beautiful limits one expects to obtain? Rather than answering this question separately for each application, it is possible to provide a generic answer for security and privacy applications. One of the strongest points of information theoretic security results is that they guarantee security even against attackers with unlimited amount of computational power and time. The way to provide such guarantees is to obtain a probabilistic model of the application at hand.
For instance, assume that we all are genuinely interested in the security and privacy of individuals in, e.g., the European Union (EU). Then, we need to realize that security or privacy guarantees cannot be proved by extensive simulations, unlike reliability guarantees. One reason for this is that we cannot be sure that an attacker will not be able to develop a new attack method that was not considered. For instance, believing that no country will ever have a quantum computer that can handle many qubits would result in the assumption that we could continue using the current cryptographic primitives to provide digital security. However, such a belief can be detrimental if someone can manage to build such a powerful quantum computer that could break various cryptographic primitives used. As an alternative, information theoretic methods will be used by the project partners to provably eliminate any unexpected security and privacy leaks. No attacker (not even the one with an unlimited amount of computing power and time) can crack a properly modeled system. An interesting point is that since 2008 we even know how to achieve the ultimate (security and privacy) limits, which will be determined during the project, thanks to Prof. Erdal Arikan’s (Bilkent University, Turkey) polar codes used already in 5G networks.
The project “Optimal Code Constructions for Private and Secure Function Computations” is expected to bring Berlin, Atlanta, and Siegen closer via reciprocal visits in addition to serving as a means to illustrate once again that every scientific success is a result of accumulated human knowledge that is nourished naturally by diversity.
- Insights Credt: Startup Incubator BerlinInsightsThe Startup Incubator Berlin at the Berlin School of Economics and Law is particularly successful in supporting founder teams – as proved by the fact…→
“We Bring Ideas to Market”
- Insights Credit: Mimi Thian on UnsolashInsightsGuest Contribution by Brain City Ambassador Dr. Petyo Budakov, University of Europe for Applied Sciences.→
“Proudly presenting Brain City Berlin in 2020”
- Insights Susanne Plaumann (private)InsightsInterview with Brain City Ambassador Susanne Plaumann M.A., Central women's representative at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin.→
“Careers are now easier to plan for women scientists”
- Insights Adi Goldstein auf UnsplashInsightsStadtManufaktur Berlin conceptually unites research projects of the TU Berlin under a single roof. The long-term goal of this “open laboratory…→
Science in Dialogue with the City
- Insights Falk WeißInsightsThe knowledge portal “humboldts17” presents current research on the subject of sustainability and welcomes open dialogue with the general public. The…→
17 Goals for the Future
- Insights Foto: Olga Makarova privatInsightsBrain City Ambassador Olga Makarova reflects on being a microbiologist during the pandemic, and the urgent need for microbiology literacy in society.→
Guest Contribution: COVID-19 and microbiology literacy
- Insights HIIGInsightsBrain City-Interview with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, Research Director at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG).→
“A sustainable goal of our work is to make clear what the technology can actually do”
- Insights HTW BerlinInsightsAn interview with Brain City Ambassador Prof. Dr. Kai Reinhardt. On October 28, he will be speaking at the second SpreeTalk at HTW University of…→
“The pandemic has been a catalyst for digitalization”
- Insights dentalXr.aiInsightsdentalXrai is the first dental start-up to be spun off the Charité. It was launched via the accelerator of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). We…→
Artificial intelligence in the fight against tooth decay
- Insights Anna Raysyan (private)InsightsBrain City Ambassador Anna Raysyan has been living in Berlin for 3,5 years now. She is a PhD student at the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und…→
Guest Contribution: “Berlin likes the bold!”
- Insights ©Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und TechnologieInsightsMany top-class researchers and scientists are being attracted to Brain City Berlin every year. The Dual Career Network Berlin helps partners of…→
Dual Career Network Berlin: getting a good start in Berlin
- Insights ©Matthias PicketInsightsDr. Anne Schreiter, Managing Director of the German Scholars Organization (GSO), reveals in the Brain City interview what alternative career…→
"Science is not just about research"
- Insights © Pocky Lee on UnsplashInsightsMatches in front of empty stadiums, virtual marathons, and many postponed events. Brain City Ambassador Professor Gabriele Mielke is tracking the…→
"Now is the time for innovators"
- Insights © AW Creative on UnsplashInsightsJuggling a degree course or teaching with the extra burden of the care of children or other family members is not an easy task. Both students and…→
From “Zoo School” to “Maternity Protection”: family-friendly universities
- Insights © HTW Berlin / Nikolas FahlbuschInsightsTeaching is currently only taking place online. Guest author Dr Dorothee Haffner, professor for Museology at HTW Berlin - University of Applied…→
Guest contribution: "Online teaching is more engaging than I thought"
- Insights Franziska SattlerInsightsIn the interview: Brain City ambassador Franziska Sattler on her series of events "Kaffeeklatsch mit Wissenschaft" (Talking Science over Coffee) at…→
"Science needs the trust of society"
- Insights Fotocredit: Ortner & Ortner / SiemensInsightsSiemensstadt 2.0 is a place of the future. The Berlin Senate has approved 9.9 million euros for the first research project "Electrical Drive…→
Siemensstadt 2.0: Research and industry closely linked
- Insights ©Credit Silke Oßwald/FMPInsightsBrain City interview: Professor Dr. Volker Haucke, Director at the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) and Professor of…→
In the balancing act between detail and overall concept
- Insights © hj barraza/UnsplashInsightsOur guest author Dr Barbara Schäuble is Professor for Diversity-Conscious Approaches in the Theory and Practice of Social Work at ASH Berlin and a…→
Guest contribution: A sudden change of course - classes moved online
- Insights ©DexLeChemInsightsLaunching a start-up while at university? Sonja Jost's success shows the way. Together with three fellow students, she founded DexLeChem after…→
"Bringing new knowledge to the market is very important to us"
- Insights ©Ivar Veermäe / Centre for EntrepreneurshipInsightsBrain City Berlin is the German capital of start-ups. Many young companies have successfully been founded through Berlin and Brandenburg based…→
"Society in particular benefits from high-tech start-ups" - university survey enters its third round
- Insights ©BIH|Thomas RafalzykInsightsAt the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) the main focus is on "translational research" - the transfer of findings from the research lab into clinical…→
“There are now many great female scientists, achieving great things”
- Insights ©fotografixx - istockphoto.comInsightsIn the digital age learning behaviour changes profoundly. It is student-centered and technology rich. As a member of the Erasmus+ funded project…→
Exploring the future of learning
- Insights © Brain City BerlinInsightsResearch results quickly and easily accessible online: The Open Access movement is campaigning for a paradigm shift in the field of publications and…→
Open Access: free knowledge for everyone
- Insights ©ESCP EUROPEInsights29.10.2019 | Professor Andreas Kaplan is a Brain City Berlin ambassador and Rector of ESCP Europe Business School Berlin. The economist's research is…→
"We have to be able to take everyone on the journey."
- Insights Gudrun Piechotta-HenzeInsightsIn time for the 2020/21 winter semester, ASH, the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin, is launching the first bachelor's degree to…→
"We have to completely rethink nursing!" | 27.09.2019
- Insights ©Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Matthias HeydeInsightsThe courses offered by the HUWISU Summer University are varied and exciting, the target group is international: students from abroad who come to…→
When Berlin becomes one large seminar room ... | 15.08.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:]InsightsThe literary scholar Dr. Betiel Wasihun was traveling for science. After stops in Heidelberg, Yale, and Oxford, it brought her to Berlin two years…→
“Berlin is a perfect location. Especially if you don’t want to pursue just a single avenue of scientific work.” | 12.08.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Berlin University Alliance/Matthias HeydeInsightsTogether we are stronger. And also more successful. As the "Berlin University Alliance," the Technische Universität Berlin, the Freie Universität…→
Congratulations: The “Berlin University Alliance“ receives funding of the Excellence Strategy |19.07.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] David Ausserhofer/IGBInsightsBerlin is one of the most water-rich cities in Germany. But climate change does not stop at the Havel, Spree or Wannsee either. Dr. Michael Hupfer is…→
"We're trying to take a look into the future." | 04.07.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Helena Lopes / UnsplashInsightsSend a digital lollipop or delicate fragrance notes via email or let the wind virtually blow against your face - research makes it possible. Learn…→
Experiencing the digital world with all senses | 18.06.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] HZB/M. SetzpfandtInsightsIn these times of fake news and pseudo-scientific publications, many people find it difficult to distinguish legitimate from dubious content. Only 54%…→
"Science needs to make us curious" | 11.06.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Tim LandgrafInsightsBrain City Berlin is considered one of the leading locations in Germany working on artificial intelligence. About 30% of all German AI companies are…→
Fish, bees, and self-driving cars | 07.06.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:]InsightsScience and cultural heritage, freely accessible to everyone at any time on the Internet: The Open Access movement is promoting a paradigm shift in…→
Knowledge for All - Open Access in Berlin | 28.03.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Thomas Rosenthal - Museum für Naturkunde BerlinInsights660 million euros in 10 years: The Natural History Museum Berlin - Museum für Naturkunde Berlin receives financial support for the further development…→
Future of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | 14.01.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:]InsightsSpace exploration is experiencing a revolution thanks to commercialization by such companies as Elon Musk's SpaceX. But did you know that more facets…→
From Berlin to the moon: the space industry is booming in Berlin | 03.09.2018