Encryption of data is fundamental to secure communication in the modern world. Beyond encryption of data lies obfuscation, i.e., encryption of functionality. It is well-known that the most powerful means of obfuscating classical programs, so-called ``black-box obfuscation',' is provably impossible [Barak et al '12]. However, several recent results have yielded candidate schemes that satisfy a definition weaker than black-box, and yet still have numerous applications.
In this work, we initialize the rigorous study of obfuscating programs via quantum-mechanical means. We define notions of quantum obfuscation which encompass several natural variants. The input to the obfuscator can describe classical or quantum functionality, and the output can be a circuit description or a quantum state. The obfuscator can also satisfy one of a number of obfuscation conditions: black-box, information-theoretic black-box, indistinguishability, and best possible; the last two conditions come in three variants: perfect, statistical, and computational. We discuss many applications, including CPA-secure quantum encryption, quantum fully-homomorphic encryption, and public-key quantum money.
We then prove several impossibility results, extending a number of foundational papers on classical obfuscation to the quantum setting. We prove that quantum black-box obfuscation is impossible in a setting where adversaries can possess more than one output of the obfuscator. In particular, generic transformation of quantum circuits into black-box-obfuscated quantum circuits is impossible. We also show that statistical indistinguishability obfuscation is impossible, up to an unlikely complexity-theoretic collapse. Our proofs involve a new tool: chosen-ciphertext-secure encryption of quantum data, which was recently shown to be possible assuming quantum-secure one-way functions exist [Alagic et al '16].