November 15, 2013: UIC Computer Science Distinguished Professor wins Extended Database Technologies (EDBT) Test of Time Award

Extended Database Technologies (EDBT) has just begin to give a test-of-time (ToT) award, with the goal of recognizing a paperpresented at EDBT from at least a decade earlier that has best met the "test of time". The 2014 winner was just announced and is:

Charu C. Aggarwal, Philip S. Yu: A Condensation Approach to Privacy Preserving Data Mining. EDBT 2004, 183-199.

The award committee said:

The paper addresses the topic of privacy-preserving data mining and proposes a framework for anonymization in contrast to perturbation approaches that introduce noise. The approach advocated in this paper takes into consideration the correlated nature of multi-dimensional data and also that is not problem-specific, i.e., the framework is generic and many mining operations can be formulated and solved given the same framework.

The paper is seminal and covers a topic that has not lost relevance today. It constitutes a prime example of how far a simple idea (in this case condensation: reduce a group of records to a number of carefully selected statistical properties of that group) can carry a whole line of original research. Condensation comes with a naturally built-in "privacy dial" (namely the group size) and is practical (easily implemented, maintainable under updates). It established general techniques that have been taken up by many people in the area and outside the area. The results in this paper can be (and have been) generalized in many ways as they tackled a more general problem of grouping, aggregation, and sampling.

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