Seminar: Vanessa Teague

Mathematics and Democracy

  • Friday 20th October 2017
  • 3-4pm
  • RMIT city campus Room 8.9.66
  • The seminar will be followed by drinks and snacks
  • All staff students and visitors are welcome.

ABSTRACT: Designing a secure election protocol is hard, since it requires verifiably correct outcomes from inputs that remain secret. The familiar cardboard ballot box is a carefully engineered artefact that allows scrutineers to observe the process without learning individual voters’ preferences. How could we do that with computers?
This talk will explain how cryptographic protocols for universally verifiable computation can be applied to real elections. We’ll discuss how they work in practice, what their limitations are, and why we’re not voting over the Internet.

BIO: I am interested in cryptographic protocols that support a free and democratic society. My research group fills a gap between what governments need to know or build and what commercial operators have an incentive to tell or sell to them.
Our research has two main themes: verifiable and transparent electronic elections, and privacy and big data. In each case, understanding the limitations of existing solutions is part of designing better ones.
In each case, openness about the algorithms and processes is good for security, privacy and public trust.
I did my B.Sc. (hons) at The University of Melbourne and my Ph.D. with Prof. John Mitchell at Stanford University. I wrote my thesis on the economic analysis of multiparty cryptographic protocols, the sort of mathematics that now underpins digital currencies and public ledgers.