YINS 4/10: John Tsitsiklis, “Safeguarding Privacy in Sequential Decision-Making Problems”

YINS Distinguished Lecturer Series

“Safeguarding Privacy in Sequential Decision-Making Problems”

Speaker: John Tsitsiklis

Clarence J. Lebel Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 – 12:00pm

Yale Institute for Network Science | 17 Hillhouse Avenue, 3rd floor | New Haven, CT 06511

Abstract: With the increasing ubiquity of large-scale surveillance and data analysis infrastructures, privacy has become a pressing concern in many domains. We propose a framework for studying a fundamental cost vs. privacy tradeoff in dynamic decision-making problems. More concretely, we are interested in ways that an agent can take actions that make progress towards a certain goal, while minimizing the information revealed to a powerful adversary who monitors these actions. We will examine two well-known decision problems (path planning and active learning), and in both cases establish sharp tradeoffs between obfuscation effort and level of privacy. As a byproduct, our analysis also leads to simple yet provably optimal obfuscation strategies. Based on joint work with Kuang Xu (Stanford) and Zhi Xu (MIT).

Speaker bio: John Tsitsiklis is the Clarence J. Lebel Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He obtained his PhD from MIT and joined the faculty in 1984. His research focuses on the analysis and control of stochastic systems, including applications in various domains, from computer networks to finance. He has been teaching probability for over 15 years.

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