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Raluca Ada Popa

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Address: 32 Vassar St, Room G982, Cambridge, MA, 02142
Email: raluca AT csail DOT mit DOT edu

This year, I am a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich. I will join UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in July 2015!

I have just completed my Ph.D. in computer science at MIT. I am interested in security, systems, and applied cryptography.

My advisor was Professor Nickolai Zeldovich, and I have also been fortunate to work with: Professor Hari Balakrishnan (in systems), Professor Shafi Goldwasser, Dr. Yael Kalai, and Professor Vinod Vaikuntanathan (in cryptography) during graduate school. During undergraduate, I also enjoyed working with and learning from Professor Barbara Liskov and Professor Ronald L. Rivest.

I earned my Masters of Engineering in Computer Science in 2010 and my two Bachelors in Computer Science and Mathematics in 2009 from MIT.
During my Ph.D, I built systems that protect data confidentiality against powerful server-side adversaries, such as cloud insiders or attackers gaining access to the data stored on servers. My approach is to have servers store, process, and compute over encrypted data, and my work combines new systems techniques with new cryptographic schemes. In this setting, I built practical systems such as a database system (CryptDB), a web application platform (Mylar), mobile systems (VPriv and PrivStats), and a cloud storage system (CloudProof).



Undergraduate years:



Encrypted BigQuery
Google recently deployed a system for performing SQL-like queries over an encrypted database following (and giving credit to) the CryptDB design. Their service uses the encryption building blocks from CryptDB (RND, DET, HOM, and SEARCH), rewrites queries and annotates the schema as in CryptDB. Here is Google's source code release of the Encrypted BigQuery client; Google will make an official announcement soon.

Lincoln Laboratory
Lincoln Labs added the CryptDB design on top of their D4M Accumulo no-SQL engine (using the RND, DET, OPE and HOM building blocks).

sql.mit.edu is a SQL server at MIT hosting many MIT-ran applications. Volunteering users of Wordpress switched to running Wordpress through CryptDB, using our source code.

Other companies using CryptDB's design

Companies like SAP AG and a new startup are applying CryptDB's design to their setting.
Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Boston
The endometriosis medical application of this hospital is a web application that collects private information from patients suffering from the disease endometriosis. It was secured with Mylar, it is now under Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and is currently being tested by patients who suffered frmo endometriosis.



Functional encryption:
Securing the cloud. Larry Hardesty, MIT news (frontpage), June 2013.



Technical reports


I have greatly enjoyed teaching and mentoring students.

Teaching Assistant for 6.857: Computer and Network Security Spring 2013:

Research mentor

Security seminar
I started and have been running the CSAIL Security seminar. My vision for the seminar was to bring together systems and cryptography researchers from MIT and nearby institutions. The seminar has been successful and active since 2010 (more than 65 talks so far).

Undergraduate tutor, Office of Minority Education, MIT. [10/2007-06/2009]


Relevant graduate coursework:
All A or A+: 6.857 ("Computer and Networks Security"), 6.830 ("Database Systems"), 6.824 ("Distributed Systems"), 6.829 ("Computer Networks"), 6.897 ("Cloud Computing"), 6.828 ("Operating System Engineering"), 6.875 ("Cryptography and Cryptanalysis"), 6.889 ("New Developments in Cryptography"), 6.S898 ("The Evolution of a Proof"), 6.854 ("Advanced Algorithms"), 6.845 ("Quantum Complexity Theory"), 6.989 ("Network Coding"), 6.867 ("Machine Learning"), 18.821 ("Project Laboratory in Mathematics").

I am originally from Sibiu, a medieval town in the southern part of Transylvania in Romania somewhere close to Dracula's castle...

I enjoy long-distance running, nature, and people.