Paper 2013/086

Efficient Private File Retrieval by Combining ORAM and PIR

Travis Mayberry, Erik-Oliver Blass, and Agnes Hui Chan


Abstract—Recent research results on tree-based Oblivious RAM by Shi et al. [15] obtain communication complexity of O(l · log3(N)) in the worst-case for an N-capacity storage with blocks size l. The individual nodes in the tree, however, are constructed using traditional ORAMs which have worst-case communication complexity linear in their capacity and block size. PIR protocols are able to provide better worst-case bounds (decoupling capacity from block size), but have traditionally been less practical than ORAM due to the fact that they require O(N) computational complexity on the server. This paper presents Path-PIR, a hybrid ORAM construction, using techniques from PIR, that overcomes the individual weaknesses of each. Path-PIR significantly reduces communication complexity when the block size of the ORAM is large. Compared to existing work, this leads to smaller data transfer costs by orders of magnitude for practical sized databases and achieves worst-case communication complexity of O(l · log2 (N)) for large block sizes. Additionally, the typically high computational cost of PIR is negated by the tree structure of the ORAM, which requires only a small fraction of the database to be operated on for each query. We also investigate the concept of an ORAM’s latency, which is the amount of communication required before users receive the result of their query. We show that Path-PIR achieves lower latency than any existing scheme, only about four times the block size. Using Amazon EC2 as an example, we demonstrate that even with the additional cost of PIR computation, Path-PIR provides a significant monetary saving compared to related work.

Available format(s)
Cryptographic protocols
Publication info
Published elsewhere. Unknown status
private information retrievaloblivious ram
Contact author(s)
travism @ ccs neu edu
2014-01-30: last of 4 revisions
2013-02-20: received
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      author = {Travis Mayberry and Erik-Oliver Blass and Agnes Hui Chan},
      title = {Efficient Private File Retrieval by Combining ORAM and PIR},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2013/086},
      year = {2013},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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