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From Billie Rinaldi <>
Subject [VOTE] Accept Pirk into the Apache Incubator
Date Tue, 14 Jun 2016 20:10:49 GMT
Since discussion has died down and we have gotten a couple of additional
mentor volunteers, I would like to call a VOTE on accepting Pirk into the
Apache Incubator.


[ ] +1 Accept Pirk into the Apache Incubator
[ ] +0 Abstain.
[ ] -1 Do not accept Pirk into the Apache Incubator becauseā€¦

This vote will be open for at least 72 hours.

Here is my +1 (binding).


Pirk Proposal


Pirk is a framework for scalable Private Information Retrieval (PIR).


Pirk is a software framework for scalable Private Information Retrieval and
is meant to provide a landing place for robust, scalable, and practical
implementations of PIR algorithms. The initial scalable PIR algorithms of
Pirk were developed at the National Security Agency.


Private Information Retrieval (PIR) is an area of computer science and
mathematics that enables a user/entity to privately and securely obtain
information from a dataset, to which they have been granted access, without
revealing, to the dataset owner or to an observer, any information
regarding the questions asked or the results obtained. Employing
homomorphic encryption techniques, PIR enables datasets to remain resident
in their native locations while giving the ability to query the datasets
with sensitive terms.


Although PIR has been in existence for over twenty years, it has largely
remained an academic discipline with very little robust or scalable
implementation. Pirk not only provides implementations of novel scalable
PIR algorithms, but it provides a framework into which robust, scalable,
and practical PIR may be developed.

Pirk fits well within the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) family as it
depends on numerous ASF projects and integrates with several others such as
Hadoop and Spark. We also anticipate developing extensions/adaptors for
several other ASF projects such as Kafka, Storm, HBase, and Accumulo in the
near future.

Initial Goals

    Ensure all dependencies are compliant with Apache License version 2.0
and that all code and documentation artifacts have the correct Apache
licensing markings and notice.
    Establish a formal release process and schedule, allowing for
dependable release cycles in a manner consistent with the Apache
development process.
    Establish a process which allows different release cycles for the core
framework, extensions/adaptors, and additional algorithms.
    Grow the community to establish diversity of background and expertise.

Current Status


We will actively seek help and encourage promotion of influence in the
project through meritocracy. We will discuss the requirements in an open
forum. We will encourage and monitor community participation so that
privileges can be extended to those that contribute.


Pirk currently has a community of developers within the U.S. government. In
open sourcing Pirk we plan to grow the community to a broader base of
industries and will work to align the interaction of our existing community.

Core Developers

The initial core developers are employed by the US Government. We will work
to grow the community among a more diverse set of developers and industries.


Pirk was developed with an open source philosophy in mind and the Apache
way is consistent with the approach we have taken to date. Further, Pirk
depends on numerous ASF libraries and projects including Hadoop, Spark,
Commons, and Maven. We also anticipate extensions and dependencies with
several more ASF projects, including Accumulo, Avro, HBase, Storm, Kafka,
and others. This existing alignment with Apache and the desired community
makes the Apache Incubator a good fit for Pirk.

Known Risks

Orphaned Products

Risk of orphaning is limited though it is important to grow the community.
The project user and developer base is growing and there is already
operational use of Pirk.

Inexperience with Open Source

The initial committers to Pirk have limited experience with true open
source software development. However, despite the project origins being
from closed source development we have modeled our behavior and community
development on The Apache Way to the greatest extent possible. We are
committed to the ideals of open source software and will eagerly seek out
mentors and sponsors who can help us quickly come up to speed.

Homogenous Developers

The initial committers of Pirk come from a limited set of entities though
we are committed to recruiting and developing additional committers from a
broad spectrum of industries and backgrounds.

Reliance on Salaried Developers

We expect Pirk development to continue on salaried time and through
volunteer time. The majority of initial committers are paid by their
employers to contribute to this project. We are committed to developing and
recruiting participation from developers both salaried and non-salaried.

Relationship with other Apache Projects

As described in the alignment section, Pirk is already heavily dependent on
other ASF projects and we anticipate further dependence and integration
with new and emerging projects in the Apache family.

An Excessive Fascination with the Apache Brand

We respect the Apache brand and desire to adopt its community building
principles. Our desire is to build and foster an open source community
around scalable, robust PIR which aligns with the Apache tenets. Further,
Apache is a natural home for Pirk given our existing dependencies and
alignment with ASF projects.


At this time there is no Pirk documentation on the web. However, we have
documentation included within the application that details usage. Using
incubator infrastructure we will be rapidly expanding the available
documentation to cover things like installation, developer guide,
frequently asked questions, best practices, and more.

Initial Source

The core codebase is written in Java and includes detailed Javadocs and
feature documentation.

Source and Intellectual Property Submission

The Pirk code and documentation materials will be submitted by the National
Security Agency. Pirk has been developed by government employees. Material
developed by the government employees is in the public domain and no U.S.
copyright exists in works of the federal government. NSA has submitted
Corporate Contributor License Agreement to the Apache Software Foundation;
the Software Grant Agreement is forth coming.

External Dependencies

We believe all current dependencies are compatible with the ASF guidelines.
Our dependency licenses come from the Apache v 2.0 and Eclipse Public v1.


Consistent with we believe Pirk is
classified as ECCN 5D002. In the event that it becomes necessary we will
engage with appropriate Apache members to ensure we file any necessary
paperwork or clarified any cryptographic export license concerns.

Required Resources

Mailing Lists

Source Control

Pirk requests use of Git for source control (git://
We request a writeable Git repo for Pirk with mirroring to be setup to
Github through INFRA.

Issue Tracking


Initial Committers

    Tracy Brown <tbrownpirk at gmail dot com>, CLA submitted

    Christopher Harris <Chris.Harris010 at gmail dot com>, CLA submitted

    Walter Ray-Dulaney <raydulany at gmail dot com>, CLA submitted

    Jacob Wilder <jacobwilder.opensource at gmail dot com>, CLA submitted

    Ellison Anne Williams <eawilliamsPirk at gmail dot com>, CLA confirmed

    Joe Witt <joewitt at apache dot org>, CLA confirmed



    Billie Rinaldi <billie at apache dot org>, IPMC Member

Nominated Mentors

    Billie Rinaldi <billie at apache dot org>, IPMC Member

    Joe Witt <joewitt at apache dot org>, IPMC Member

    Josh Elser <elserj at apache dot org>, IPMC Member

    Suneel Marthi <smarthi at apache dot org>, IPMC Member

    Tim Ellison <tellison at apache dot org>, Apache Member

Sponsoring Entity

We request the Apache Incubator to sponsor this project.

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