IBM researchers to publish FHE challenges on the FHERMA platform

To foster innovation in fully homomorphic encryption (FHE), IBM® researchers have begun publishing challenges on the FHERMA platform for FHE challenges launched in late 2023 by Fair Math and the OpenFHE community.

FHE: A new frontier in technology

Fully homomorphic encryption is a groundbreaking technology with immense potential. One of its notable applications lies in enhancing medical AI models. By enabling various research institutes to collaborate seamlessly in the training process, FHE opens doors to a new era of possibilities. The ability to process encrypted data without decryption marks a pivotal advancement, promising to revolutionize diverse fields.

IBM has been working to advance the domain of FHE for 15 years, since IBM Research scientist Craig Gentry introduced the first plausible fully homomorphic scheme in 2009. The “bootstrapping” mechanism he developed cleans and reduces the amount of “noise” in encoded information, which made possible the widespread use of FHE commercially.

Progress in FHE

FHE has experienced significant progress since the introduction of its first scheme. The transition from theoretical frameworks to practical implementations has been marked by countless issues that need to be addressed. While there are already applications that are using FHE, the community is constantly improving and innovating the algorithms to make FHE more popular and applicable to new domains.

Fostering innovation through challenges

The FHERMA platform was built to incentivize innovation in the FHE domain. Various challenges can be seen on the FHERMA site. The challenges are motivated by problems encountered by real-world machine learning and blockchain applications.

Solutions to challenges must be written by using known cryptographic libraries such as openFHE. The developers can also use higher-level libraries such as IBM’s HElayers to speed up their development and easily write robust and generic code.

The best solutions to the various challenges will win cash prizes from Fair Math, alongside contributing to the FHE community. Winners will also be offered the opportunity to present their solutions in a special workshop currently being planned.

The goal of the challenges is to foster research, popularize FHE, and develop cryptographic primitives that are efficient, generic, and support different hyperparameters (for example, writing matrix multiplication that is efficient for matrices of dimensions 1000×1000 and 10×10). This aligns with IBM’s vision for privacy-preserving computation by using FHE.

Driving progress and adoption

Introducing and participating in challenges that are listed on the FHERMA site is an exciting and rewarding way to advance the extended adoption of FHE, while helping to move development and research in the domain forward. We hope you join us in this exciting endeavor on the FHERMA challenges platform.

Teams and individuals who successfully solve the challenges will receive cash prizes from Fair Math. More importantly, the innovative solutions to the published challenges will help move the FHE community forward—a longstanding goal for IBM.

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