Paper 2015/412

The Birth of Cryptographic Obfuscation -- A Survey

Máté Horváth and Levente Buttyán


The first candidate indistinguishability obfuscator (iO) of Garg et al. (FOCS 2013) changed the previously pessimistic attitude towards general-purpose cryptographic obfuscation. The potential realizability of such a powerful tool motivated a plethora of applications, including solutions for long-standing open problems, from almost all areas of cryptography. At the same time, the question of whether iO is realizable under standard assumptions is still open. In this work, we review the rapid development of candidate constructions and organize the results of the first four years since the breakthrough. Our goal is to give a bird's-eye view of the infancy of cryptographic obfuscation, providing insight into the most important ideas and techniques.

Note: This version of the manuscript is not merely an update of the previous ones but, based on the lessons learnt, it was entirely reorganized and rewritten to provide -- hopefully -- a comprehensive and useful overview of the topic. It reflects the state of the art in September 2017.

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Publication info
Secure ComputationGeneral-Purpose ObfuscationIndistinguishability ObfuscationMultilinear MapsGraded EncodingsFunctional EncryptionRandomized EncodingsFully Homomorphic Encryption
Contact author(s)
mhorvath @ crysys hu
2018-01-07: last of 5 revisions
2015-05-05: received
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      author = {Máté Horváth and Levente Buttyán},
      title = {The Birth of Cryptographic Obfuscation -- A Survey},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2015/412},
      year = {2015},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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