Introduction to Data Privacy
CS/SS 152
Fall 2014


This course will require you to present and build on many existing sources. Proper attribution of ideas, text, and paraphrased text is required, in both oral and written presentations.

In your attempts to understand how data privacy is handled in the real world, please be extremely cautious never to access, view, store, transmit, or process anyone's personal information without their permission. Don't break the law. Follow the honor code. If you're ever unsure whether something you'd like to try is appropriate, please consult with the instructor first.


You are strongly encouraged to collaborate with your classmates on homework problems, but each person must write up the final solutions individually. You should note on your homework specifically which problems were a collaborative effort and with whom. You may not search online for solutions, but if you do use research papers or other sources in your solutions, you must cite them.

Late policy: We will allocate each student 2 tokens at the beginning of the term. Each of these tokens can be used to buy a 24-hour extension on either homework during the term (you may spend them both on the same homework assignment). You should write clearly on your homework that you are using a token, and how many you are using. You cannot get extra tokens and zero credit will be given to late assignments.


Many classes will include a 5-minute "checkpoint" exercise in class, to evaluate understanding. These are graded on either a 0/1 or 0/1/2 scale, and there is no makeup available, so please come to class.

Course Blog

Each student will contribute to the course blog in two ways: responding to other students' posts, and writing your own posts about data privacy. You will be required to significantly participate in a minimum of two discussions started by other students on Piazza, as well as to write at least three individual blog posts; of course, you are also welcome to contribute more. The honor code is in effect for all posts. Please be sure to avoid inappropriate or offensive commentary.

The blog posts should be made via Piazza by posting a new question with the "blog" tag. Other students are encouraged to comment/discuss on the post using the "student answer" wiki section. The posts will be graded based on the quality of the insights in them, the quality of the writing, the relevance to the class, and their novelty. During the first week of class, you will self-assign five due dates for your three posts and two substantial responses. Details on the assignment process are here. No credit for late posts will be given. You may certainly choose to post before a post is due.

Reading Groups and Teaching

At the beginning of the quarter, students will be matched to reading groups, each with an assigned topic. Each reading group must fix a weekly 1-hour meeting time that all members can commit to. You will be assigned a group facilitator who will also attend on a regular basis. Each group's assigned topic comes with a set of research papers that all group members are expected to read on their own. Group meeting times should be used to help clarify general questions about the course material, to discuss the assigned papers, to prepare to present that material as a group in an 85-minute lecture, and to identify and discuss open research problems. Topics, associated papers, and suggested directions for inquiry will be posted soon. When it is your group's turn to teach, your responsibilities are:


The course project will involve engagement with a current topic of research in data privacy. Your group (of 1-3 students) should strive to produce something novel, such as new algorithms, models, or theorems; new implementation paired with experimental results; or a new synthesis and presentation of existing results, providing novel insights or perspectives. More details on potential topics will be posted soon.
The project involves several deliverables: