ERC Consolidator Grant: Advanced Practical Post-Quantum Cryptography from Lattices

My ERC Consolidator Grant application titled “Advanced Practical Post-Quantum Cryptography from Lattices” has been selected(*) for funding by the European Research Council. Here’s my blurb:

Standardisation efforts for post-quantum public-key encryption and signatures are close to completion. At the same time the most recent decade has seen the deployment, at scale, of more advanced cryptographic algorithms where no efficient post-quantum candidates exist. These algorithms e.g. permit to give strong guarantees even after some parties were compromised, privacy-preserving contact lookups, credentials and e-cash. This project will tackle the challenge of “lifting” such constructions to the post-quantum era by pursuing three guiding questions:

  • What is the cost of solving lattice problems with and without hints on a quantum computer? Answers to this question will provide confidence in the entire stack of lattice-based cryptography from “basic” to “advanced”. Studying the presence of hints tackles side-channel attacks and advanced constructions.
  • What are the lattice assumptions that establish feature- and (near) performance-parity with pre-quantum cryptography? Standard lattice assumptions do not seem to establish feature parity with pairing-based or even some Diffie-Hellman-based pre-quantum constructions, how can we achieve efficient and secure advanced practical post-quantum solutions?
  • How efficient is a careful composition of lattice-base cryptography with other assumptions? If we want to deploy our post-quantum solutions in practice, we will need to design hybrid schemes that are secure if either of their pre- or post-quantum part is secure and to deploy many advanced lattice-based primitives in practice we need to carefully compose them with zero-knowledge proofs to rule out some attacks.

Lattice-based cryptography has established itself as a key technology to realise both efficient basic primitives like post-quantum encryption and advanced solutions such as computation with encrypted data and programs. It is thus well positioned to tackle the middle ground of advanced yet practical primitives for phase 2 of the post-quantum transition.

Concretely, this grant award means that I’ll be recruiting for several postdoc and PhD student (international fees, i.e. not restricted to people from the UK) positions in post-quantum and lattice-based cryptography. I have a bit of flexibility in when to put those on the market, so if you think these positions would fit you well, feel free to get in touch with me to informally discuss it.

In somewhat related news, we’re hiring for a lecturer (≈ assistant professor) position at King’s College London. We’re also hiring for PhD or postdoc residency (≈ intern) positions at SandboxAQ.

(*) Well, there is the tiny issue of Brexit: “As described in Annex 3 of the ERC Work Programme 2022, successful applicants established in a country in the process of associating to Horizon Europe will not be treated as established in an associated country if the association agreement does not apply by the time of the signature of the grant agreement.” See also UKRI’s guidance on the UK’s guarantee scheme.


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