Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI

Privacy – Algorithmic Foundations and Usability (Sommersemester 2017)

Dozent: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel (Internet-Technologien und -Systeme)
Tutoren: Dr. Anne Kayem

Allgemeine Information

  • Semesterwochenstunden: 4
  • ECTS: 6
  • Benotet: Ja
  • Einschreibefrist: 28.04.2017
  • Lehrform: Vorlesung / Seminar
  • Belegungsart: Wahlpflichtmodul

Studiengänge, Modulgruppen & Module

IT-Systems Engineering MA
  • IT-Systems Engineering
    • HPI-ITSE-A Analyse
  • IT-Systems Engineering
    • HPI-ITSE-E Entwurf
  • IT-Systems Engineering
    • HPI-ITSE-K Konstruktion
  • IT-Systems Engineering
    • HPI-ITSE-M Maintenance
  • ISAE: Internet, Security & Algorithm Engineering
    • HPI-ISAE-S Spezialisierung
  • ISAE: Internet, Security & Algorithm Engineering
    • HPI-ISAE-T Techniken und Werkzeuge


Statistics estimate that as many as 350 million photographs are shared daily on Facebook, and more than 500 million tweets on Twitter. Large volumes of information are an important source of information for data analytics operations for instance, but also raise justified user concerns about personal information disclosure. Studies indicate that it is possible, to discover behaviours (that are even unknown to users themselves) by combining information drawn from multiple datasets.

In this course, we consider the problem of privacy preserving algorithm design and reflect on the growing recognition that algorithmic approaches alone are not an adequate solution. As a first step, we study some existing privacy preserving algorithms from the principles of operation (protection and performance). We follow this in the second step by studying methods of enabling users expressively control disclosure, and consider the role human factors play in the success and/or failure of privacy systems. Using a case study approach, we study a variety of privacy systems and design studies to evaluate the usability issues.

The course will be conducted in a mixed lecture/seminar style in which the first series of lecture slots wil be dedicated to presenting background material required to support participants in preparing for the presentation, and compiling a portfolio. A choice of presentation topics can be found here, and participants may indicate topic preferences (here). Topic assignments will occur in Week 4.

Each participant will be expected to prepare a presentation, and compile a portfolio, based on the topic he/she is assigned. 

Lectures will be centered on the following topics:

  • Challenges in quantifying privacy, and usability
  • Authentication - Privacy and Usability Considerations
  • Web-Based Privacy Enhancing Technologies
  • Attacks to Privacy
  • Making Privacy and Anonymity Tools Usable
  • Protecting publicly shared data
  • Privacy Protection - Design and Human Factor Considerations


This course is suitable for participants who are interested in security and privacy, but who would like to learn more about usability; and for those interested in usability but who would like to learn about security and privacy. In addition having a combination of the following skills would be helpful:

  • Software Development in Java, C/C++, or Python
  • Some experience with designing user studies


Additional reading material will be provided online or handed out in class.


The final course grade will be based on:

50% Portfolio

30% Presentation

20% Final Exam

Portfolio: The portfolio will comprise the documentation collected to support the presentation. This should include at least some combination of the following - your presentation proposal, user consent form (a template will be provided), reference material consulted, studies conducted (e.g. questionnaires, survey, interviews, prototypes, etc.) to support hypotheses, and experiments. Your portfolio should describe progress made, problems encountered, and how the problems were addressed. Details of the pilot user studies (initial study, design, prototype, scripts, code/implementations, results...) should also be included.

Presentation: Each participant will be assigned a topic on which he/she will work individually. Topic choices can be made here. Individual weekly meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss matters, related to the presentation topics, and for which advice is required.

Final Exam: Open Book or Oral.


Tuesdays, 11am - 12.30pm

Room: A-1.1

25.04.2017: Introduction and Course Overview

02.05 - 30.05.2017: Notes and Reading Material

15.05.2017: Topic Selection Deadline (Topic Details)

18.07.2017: Final Presentations (slots: 15 + 5 min)

25.07.2017: Final Exam

15.08.2017: Portfolio Handin