About Me

My name is Albert (Young Hyun) Kwon, and I'm a third year Ph.D. student at MIT working with Srini Devadas. I grew up in South Korea, spent about 5 years in Toronto, Canada, 2 years in Auburn, Alabama, and did my undergrad at University of Pennsylvania. I'm broadly interested in security and privacy, with emphasis on applied cryptography. Recently, I've been working on privacy and anonymity in the cloud.


I got my Bachelors of Science from University of Pennsylvania in EE and CIS in 2013. At UPenn, my undergrad research advsior was André DeHon, and I also worked closely with Johnathan Smith and Boon Thau Loo. I graduated UPenn with summa cum laude, and received the Atwater Kent Prize in Electrical Engineering and the Hugo Otto Wolf Memorial Prize for Computer and Information Science.

I started my PhD. at MIT in 2013 in Computer Science. I was the recipient of Shillman Fellowship in my first year. I recently finished on my Master's thesis, which is on efficient anonymous communication.


Currently, my research focuses on privacy, especially anonymity. A few questions of interest to me are:

  • How can we guarantee freedom of speech online and protect everyone's privacy?
  • How do we scale strong anonymity?
  • How do we hold people accountable for their actions if everyone is anonymous?
  • How do we establish trust if everyone is anonymous?
To answer some of these questions, I worked on anonymous communication systems with Bryan Ford. Most existing systems either offer weak anonymity but good performance (such as Tor), or strong anonymity but poor performance (such as Dissent or verifiable shuffles). We developed a new efficient anonymous communication system based on mixnets that incur little bandwidth and computation overheads with very strong anonymity guarantees. Of course this system also has flaws, and we hope to address some of its issues in the future.

As a side project on anonymity, I studied the security of Tor hidden services, and published the results in Usenix 2015. It was featured on MIT's website and some popular websites like Ars as well. It was also credited with pausing the operation of the largest black market which was very fascinating to me.

Another interesting side project of mine has been implementation of proof-of-space in Go, which can be used to guarantee (with some asymptotic bound) that a person is holding more than X amount of space. This can be used to replace proof-of-work in things like Bitcoin, and enable a more efficient and easily adoptable cryptocurrency. I hope to clean up this code, and implement more complicated version of this that provides better bounds.

I've also worked on optimizations and designs of Oblivious RAMs (ORAMs) with Chris, Ling, and Srini. The high level goal of this project was to provide the highest levels of privacy without sacrificing too much performance. I have also worked on efficient memory protection, and denial-of-service protection as part of my undergrad research.

Although my current focus is on privacy, I'm generally interested in working on anything that is hard for humans to reason about (like security and privacy), and developing systems that handle the hard concepts automatically.

Selected Publications

For a full list of projects and publications, please checkout my CV.


I enjoy teaching computer science quite a bit, and have been part of several classes as a TA. Here's a list of classes I've helped teach at MIT and UPenn.

  • MIT
    • 6.858: Computer Systems Security (Fall 2015)
    • 6.046: Introduction to Algorithms (Spring 2015)
  • University of Pennsylvania
    • CIS320: Introduction to Algorithms (Spring 2013)
    • CIS380: Operating Systems (Fall 2012)
    • CIS240: Introduction to Computing Systems (Fall 2011)
    • CIS192: Python Programming (Spring 2011)
    I've also mentored two bright high school students, Diana and Cristian, as part of the MIT Primes program. We worked on an anonymous chat room together.


    When I'm not working, I spend majority of my time with my other half. When I'm not spending time with her, I'm usually part taking in one of my less productive hobbies. They include:

    • Video games
    • Basketball
    • Board games
    • Super hero movies and TV shows
    • Reddit
    Of all my hobbies, I probably play video games the most. I play many Nintendo and Blizzard games (anything Mario/Zelda/Metroid, SSB, Splatoon, Diablo, Hearthstone, Overwatch, etc.; you name it, and I probably play it!). I'm also an avid fan of rhythm games.


    If you need to contact me for any reason, you can email me at kwonal@mit.edu (using this PGP key, if you would like).