Instructor: Amir Houmansadr
Course number: CMPSCI691PT @ University of Massachusetts Amherst
Class hours: Fri 1:25pm-3:25pm
Class location: 142 Computer Science Building
Office hours: By appointment
Office location: CS206
E-mail: amir (at)
(Note: make sure to have your email Subject started with [CMPSCI691PT] in all class communications, or your email is lost!)


This is a seminar course that targets hot topics in privacy enhancing technologies for the Internet. The topics covered in this course include:
  • Anonymous communications
  • Internet censorship and circumvention
  • Internet surveillance
  • Privacy-preserving social networking
  • Private computation and storage
The class will meet for two hours every week. The following are the duties of the students:
  1. Paper Reviews: All students are required to read the assigned papers for each session, write conference-style reviews for the papers, and email them to the instructor before the class starts. See the top of this page for emailing instructions.
  2. Presentation(s): Depending on the class enrollment, each student is required to present one or two research papers in front of the class. The presentation should take 25 minutes, and the presenting student should lead the class to a discussion on the paper for another 30 minutes.
  3. Participation: Students are required to attend all the class sessions, and to get actively involved in discussions after each presentation.
  4. Project (only for 3 cr students): Students registered for three credit hours should work with the instructor to choose a research project. By the end of the semester students should have returned a conference paper style report for the project, and should have presented it to the class. See the Projects section for deadlines and instructions.
At the end of the semester, students will be graded based on the following chart:

1 credit hour students 3 credit hours students
Reviews 30% 15%
Presentations 40% 20%
Participation 30% 15%
Project 0% 50%


Here are some of the ethical rules that must be practiced by the students. If you are uncertain about an action being ethical please contact the instructor. You can also read UMass's Academic Honesty Policy.
  • Paper reviews must be prepared independently. Students may collaborate on the project if agreed by the instructor.
  • Presentation slides may be borrowed from the others (e.g., the authors of the presented papers), however proper acknowledgement must be made at the beginning of the presentation.
  • As a general rule, students are not permitted to submit the same work for credit in multiple courses (e.g., a project submitted for another course, or an already published paper). Extensions to previous projects may be accepted after discussing with the instructor.
  • Plagiarism is a serious crime! If you use someone else's result in your report make sure to give proper reference. Exact words should be reported inside quotation marks.