Pairing 2010 Conference

The 4-th International Conference on Pairing-Based Cryptography (Pairing 2010) was held in Yamanaka Hot Spring, Ishikawa, Japan from December 13 to 15.

A few stories about Pairing 2010 will probably be kept in people’s minds for a while; for example the one that all speakers and chairs were asked to take off their shoes before entering the stage, or that also many non-Japanese participants showed up at the conference dinner wearing the traditional Japanese yukata.

Speaking about the technical program, I found it quite versatile with some really interesting talks. As usual, a variety of papers was presented that describe improvements, extensions and new constructions of cryptographic protocols using pairings, covering topics reaching from key agreement, ID-based crypto and digital signatures to applications in cloud computing using not yet realizable multilinear forms.

On the more curve-related side there were a few talks on software implementation of pairings on elliptic curves, one of them presenting a high-speed implementation at the 128-bit security level that can compute the pairing in less than 1ms. Two talks on hardware implementation of pairings on FPGAs for the same security level showed that reasonably fast and compact hardware implementations are possible. Still it seems that hardware can not yet compete with the extreme efficiency improvements that have been achieved in software recently.

Two talks about hashing to hyperelliptic curves demonstrated some progress on that matter. There is hope that in the near future efficient deterministic hashing algorithms will be proposed also for families of pairing-friendly curves that have not yet been covered. There were two presentations on constructing pairing-friendly curves of genus 2. Still, currently there is no method for obtaining pairing-friendly Jacobians of ordinary genus-2 curves with a rho value close to 2.

The three invited lectures were given by Gene Tsudik, Jens Groth and Joseph Silverman. Gene Tsudik declared that he probably had been invited by accident. Despite the fact that he apparently felt a bit out of place, he did well in pointing out some topics in security in which pairings are not yet but could become useful tools. Jens Groth gave a very nice tutorial on his work with Amit Sahai on non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs. My overall most favorite talk was Joe Silverman’s. He explained how the usual suspects like the Weil and Tate pairings arise naturally in the study of elliptic curves (or more generally, abelian varieties) and what makes them especially useful for cryptography. I have rarely seen the duality and cohomology background of pairings on abelian varieties being explained in such an understandable way.

Finally, I would like to point out that the big crowd of local Japanese organizers did an extremely good job, not only in choosing this gorgeous location, but also in providing a great social program giving a lot of insight into Japanese culture and food.

–Michael Naehrig

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