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Private Join and Compute

This project contains an implementation of the "Private Join and Compute" functionality. This functionality allows two users, each holding an input file, to privately compute the sum of associated values for records that have common identifiers.

In more detail, suppose a Server has a file containing the following identifiers:


And a Client has a file containing the following identifiers, paired with associated integer values:

Identifiers Associated Values
Ruby 10
Ada 30
Alexander 5
Mika 35

Then the Private Join and Compute functionality would allow the Client to learn that the input files had 2 identifiers in common, and that the associated values summed to 40. It does this without revealing which specific identifiers were in common (Ada and Ruby in the example above), or revealing anything additional about the other identifiers in the two parties' data set.

Private Join and Compute is a variant of the well-studied Private Set Intersection functionality. We sometimes also refer to Private Join and Compute as Private Intersection-Sum.

How to run the protocol

In order to run Private Join and Compute, you need to install Bazel, if you don't have it already. Follow the instructions for your platform on the Bazel website.

You also need to install Git, if you don't have it already. Follow the instructions for your platform on the Git website.

Once you've installed Bazel and Git, open a Terminal and clone the Private Join and Compute repository into a local folder:

git clone

Navigate into the private-join-and-compute folder you just created, and build the Private Join and Compute library and dependencies using Bazel:

cd private-join-and-compute
bazel build //private_join_and_compute:all

(All the following instructions must be run from inside the private-join-and-compute folder.)

Next, generate some dummy data to run the protocol on:

bazel-bin/private_join_and_compute/generate_dummy_data --server_data_file=/tmp/dummy_server_data.csv \

This will create dummy data for the server and client at the specified locations. You can look at the files in /tmp/dummy_server_data.csv and /tmp/dummy_client_data.csv to see the dummy data that was generated. You can also change the size of the dummy data generated using additional flags. For example:

bazel-bin/private_join_and_compute/generate_dummy_data \
--server_data_file=/tmp/dummy_server_data.csv \
--client_data_file=/tmp/dummy_client_data.csv --server_data_size=1000 \
--client_data_size=1000 --intersection_size=200 --max_associated_value=100

Once you've generated dummy data, you can start the server as follows:

bazel-bin/private_join_and_compute/server --server_data_file=/tmp/dummy_server_data.csv

The server will load data from the specified file, and wait for a connection from the client.

Once the server is running, you can start a client to connect to the server. Create a new terminal and navigate to the private-join-and-compute folder. Once there, run the following command to start the client:

bazel-bin/private_join_and_compute/client --client_data_file=/tmp/dummy_client_data.csv

The client will connect to the server and execute the steps of the protocol sequentially. At the end of the protocol, the client will output the Intersection Size (the number of identifiers in common) and the Intersection Sum (the sum of associated values). If the protocol was successful, both the server and client will shut down.


Several caveats should be carefully considered before using Private Join and Compute.

Security Model

Our protocol has security against honest-but-curious adversaries. This means that as long as both participants follow the protocol honestly, neither will learn more than the size of the intersection and the intersection-sum. However, if a participant deviates from the protocol, it is possible they could learn more than the prescribed information. For example, they could learn the specific identifiers in the intersection. If the underlying data is sensitive, we recommend performing a careful risk analysis before using Private Join and Compute, to ensure that neither party has an incentive to deviate from the protocol. The protocol can also be supplemented with external enforcement such as code audits to ensure that no party deviates from the protocol.

Maliciously Chosen Inputs

We note that our protocol does not authenticate that parties use "real" input, nor does it prevent them from arbitrarily changing their input. We suggest careful analysis of whether any party has an incentive to lie about their inputs. This risk can also be mitigated by external enforcement such as code audits.

Leakage from the Intersection-Sum.

While the Private Join and Compute functionality is supposed to reveal only the intersection-size and intersection-sum, it is possible that the intersection-sum itself could reveal something about which identifiers were in common.

For example, if an identifier has a very unique associated integer values, then it may be easy to detect if that identifier was in the intersection simply by looking at the intersection-sum. One way this could happen is if one of the identifiers has a very large associated value compared to all other identifiers. In that case, if the intersection-sum is large, one could reasonably infer that that identifier was in the intersection. To mitigate this, we suggest scrubbing inputs to remove identifiers with "outlier" values.

Another way that the intersection-sum may leak which identifiers are in the intersection is if the intersection is too small. This could make it easier to guess which combination of identifiers could be in the intersection in order to yield a particular intersection-sum. To mitigate this, one could abort the protocol if the intersection-size is below a certain threshold, or to add noise to the output of the protocol.

(Note that these mitigations are not currently implemented in this open-source library.)


This is not an officially supported Google product. The software is provided as-is without any guarantees or warranties, express or implied.