Approximate computing and its application to hardware security

Weiqiang Liu*, Chongyan Gu, Gang Qu, Máire O'Neill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

17 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for high speed and low power in nanoscale integrated circuits (ICs) for many applications, such as image and multimedia data processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, where results of the highest accuracy may not be needed, has motivated the development of approximate computing. Approximate circuits, in particular approximate arithmetic units, have been studied extensively and made significant impact on the power performance of such systems. The first goal of this chapter is to review both the existing approximate arithmetic circuitries, which include adders,multipliers, and dividers, and popular approximate algorithms. The second goal of this chapter is to explore broader applications of approximate computing. As an example, we review two case studies, one on a lightweight device authentication scheme based on erroneous adders and the other one on information hiding behind a newly proposed approximate data format. This approach of applying approximate computing in security is interesting and promising in the Internet of things (IoT) domain where the devices are extremely resource constrained and cannot afford conventional cryptographic solutions to provide data security and user privacy. We also discuss the potential of approximate computing in building hardware security primitives for cyber physical system (CPS) and IoT devices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCyber-Physical Systems Security
PublisherSpringer International Publishing Switzerland
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN 978-3-319-98934-1
ISBN (Print)9783319989341
Publication statusPublished - 06 Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Engineering


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