Rate-distortion theory for secrecy systems

Curt Schieler, Paul Cuff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Secrecy in communication systems is measured herein by the distortion that an adversary incurs. The transmitter and receiver share secret key, which they use to encrypt communication and ensure distortion at an adversary. A model is considered in which an adversary not only intercepts the communication from the transmitter to the receiver, but also potentially has side information. In particular, the adversary may have causal or noncausal access to a signal that is correlated with the source sequence or the receiver's reconstruction sequence. The main contribution is the characterization of the optimal tradeoff among communication rate, secret key rate, distortion at the adversary, and distortion at the legitimate receiver. It is demonstrated that causal side information at the adversary plays a pivotal role in this tradeoff. It is also shown that measures of secrecy based on normalized equivocation are a special case of the framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6942222
Pages (from-to)7584-7605
Number of pages22
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Rate-distortion theory
  • causal disclosure
  • equivocation
  • information-theoretic secrecy
  • shared secret key
  • soft covering lemma


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