Archive

June 28th, 2009

PrivatePond: Outsourced Management of Web Corpuses

This paper was presented at WEBDB 2009 at Providence, Rhode Island. The PDF version is available here.

My colleague from the database research group Dan Fabbri just presented our work, “PrivatePond” at WEBDB 2009. This paper is a clear example of the research environment at Michigan. Dan works on database security, while I work on database search. Given that we sit across each other at the lab, there is always a constant amount of crosstalk. Add in a few brainstorming sessions and a few work-intense weekends, and you have a secure database search paper!

The core idea of the paper is simple. Everybody uses Google (or Yahoo! or Bing). They’re fast, they’re easy to use, and they’re free. Now let’s say you had some secure information, like your prescription information from your psychiatrist. Obviously you don’t want Google to know about it, because they can do bad, bad things with it. So you encrypt it. But you still want it to be searchable. But you can’t search encrypted data! So what do we do?

Enter PrivatePond. Basically, we’re encrypting private data just enough that its possible to search with decent ranking, while still keeping it secure.

We call this the “Secure Indexable Representation”, and we study how increasing the encryption decreases the quality of search, and vice versa.

Update: We actually have a demo of our system. If you would like to see it, please contact me!

Here are the slides for the talk:

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June 21st

The difference between Google and Yahoo!

Time for some good ol’ flamebait!:

State-of-the-art lawnmowing technology at Google:

State-of-the-art lawnmowing technology at Yahoo!:

As you can clearly see, Yahoo! is cuter.

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June 1st

Manhattanhenge

This weekend was Manhattanhenge :

Manhattanhenge (sometimes referred to as Manhattan Solstice) is a biannual occurrence in which the setting sun aligns with the east-west streets of Manhattan’s main street grid.

It results in quite an intriguing view, since you get to watch the Sun set while standing on the east side of the island. I took the above photo from the Eastern end of 14th street, where a small group of us had gathered to witness the event.

May 17th

New York, New York!

It’s been a little over 2 weeks since I moved to the Big Apple for the summer. Much like my last visit to NYC in 2007, this time I’m working for the another dotcom company .

NYC is a seriously awesome place. There’s so much stuff going on that it became a little hard to pick exactly what to do. Being the lazy person that I am, I decided to crowdsource this decision. So I put up a Facebook status update: Arnab wonders what to do in NYC. Suggestions? Within a few hours, I had 16 suggestions! Here’s an edited list. I’ve also added a few of my own suggestions:

The plan is to strike each one of these off my list (in addition to the usual stuff like going to see a Broadway play, etc). Let’s see how this works out!

May 7th

Nerds are the new Rock Stars

We’re seeing a new breed of rock stars these days: Scientists.

Apparently there is a Night Club for Nerdy People in the Big Apple :

The crowd is young and hip, mostly in their 20s and 30s, eager to gain entry to tonight’s hot-ticket entertainment event. Once the doors open, about 50 lucky people secure chairs, while another 50 stand four-deep around the room, and another 50 are gently turned away at the door.
“This is the third time I haven’t made it in,” a disappointed young woman sighs.
A mixtape of music plays through the speakers and the audience sips drinks from plastic cups while waiting for the featured act to begin. It won’t be the latest indie band, or an up-and-coming comedian. This is not the typical New York club scene. This is the monthly meeting of the Secret Science Club.

Then there’s DorkBot, which has branches everywhere:

the main goals of dorkbot are: to create an informal, friendly environment in which people can talk, […] to give us all an opportunity to see the strange things our neighbors are doing with electricity.

Meanwhile, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “Dr. Evil” and the “Mexican Multiplier” have dueled it out till the very end, in an attempt to write the largest number on a chalkboard.

Finally, here’s an awesome ad from Intel’s amazing marketing team:

April 24th

Tapbots goes fulltime

The Tapbots duo are quitting their day jobs to work fulltime on their iPhone app company:

Longer term we aren’t looking to get any VC funding, grow to 100s of employees or get bought out by some big corporation. We may get help with support, testing and/or marketing, but development and design is going to just be us two for the foreseeable future. We think that’s the best way to keep the quality of our applications at the level that everyone expects. Our goal is to produce about 4 applications a year. We aren’t going to shovel out crap-ware to cash-in on our names. We aren’t going to write the next Office or Filemaker. We are going to write simple but incredibly polished applications that are created specifically for the iPhone/Touch devices. Two guys, lot’s of passion and a lot of hard work, that’s the Tapbots way.




Two guys, two popular iphone apps (“Weightbot sold 100k copies in its first 100 days, Convertbot is selling at about twice that rate.”), one mission to make quality apps. Good luck, guys!

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April 18th

Organizing ideas

Anand Sarwate classifies research ideas he has into 5 convenient categories:

1. Pie-in-the-sky : wow, that seems interesting… I should think about it for more than 5 minutes…
2. Nebulous hand-waving : there’s a problem there, but what is the right framework?
3. Percolating : ok, but what is the actual formal problem?
4. In progress : finding the proof in the pudding.
5. Writing : oh no, a deadline! Gotta figure out how to fit the page limit!

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April 16th

Advanced Location Tracking with Locomatix

The good folks at Locomatix just released their iPhone app My Aura :

The app shows a lot of promise. It even does UM Magic Bus Tracking! It’s definitely way ahead in terms of advanced features like real time alerts and location and time based privacy settings. Great work guys!

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April 13th

All Sorts of Visualization

Aldo Cortesi uses Cairo and python to come up with these neat visualizations for sort algorithms :

(via)

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April 2nd

She takes care of people

Just discovered the San-Fransciscan band Rupa and the April Fishes :

With musical influences that include French chanson, Gypsy swing, tango, Latin alternative, Indian music and beyond, Rupa & the April Fishes create music that is lively, romantic and instantaneously appealing. Based in San Francisco, the band’s accessible and multicultural sound has earned them a reputation as one of the most exciting groups in the Bay Area alternative scene.

Frontwoman Rupa Marya isn’t your ordinary rockstar. She’s also a practising doctor:

(via anuj)

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