Covert Computation

Grant Orndorff and Jeremy Krach, both class of 2017, helped research and develop covert computation, a method of secret communication. Orndorff and Krach worked with Dana Dachman-Soled, assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, to apply the communication method, which uses encoded messages and hides them in images.

Using covert computation, only those participating in the communication can understand the messages. The figures above and below illustrate the covert computation process.

For example, two people can use covert computation to find out if one individual likes the other. If they both say yes, the program notifies them and they “live happily ever after,” Orndorff said. However, if one individual says no or does not reply, the other individual will find out nothing about the communication.

“No one will receive a ‘no’ or be aware of a lack of communication and no one’s feelings will get hurt,” Orndorff said.

As student research assistants, Krach and Orndorff created a covert computation program using an algorithm Dachman-Soled developed. By the end of their summer research commitment, they had developed a bare bones, but usable, program implementing covert computation.

The program research began during summer 2014 and is ongoing.