Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Computer Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Srinivas Katkoori


Automata, Circuit Watermarking, Encoding, Finite State Machine Watermarking, Intellectual Property


We present an Intellectual Property (IP) protection technique for sequential circuits driven by embedding a decomposed signature into a Finite State Machine (FSM) through the manipulation of the arbitrary state encoding of the unprotected FSM. This technique is composed of three steps: (a) transforming the signature into a watermark graph, (b) embedding watermark graphs into the original FSM's State Transition Graph (STG) and (c) generating models for verification and extraction. In the watermark construction process watermark graphs are generated from signatures. The proposed methods for watermark construction are: (1) BSD, (2) FSD, and (3) HSD. The HSD method is shown to be advantageous for all signatures while providing sparse watermark FSMs with complexity O(n^2). The embedding process is related to the sub-graph matching problem. Due to the computational complexity of the matching problem, attempts to reverse engineer or remove the constructed watermark from the protected FSM, with only finite resources and time, are shown to be infeasible. The proposed embedding solutions are: (1) Brute Force and (2) Greedy Heuristic. The greedy heuristic has a computational complexity of O(n log n), where n is the number of states in the watermark graph. The greedy heuristic showed improvements for three of the six encoding schemes used in experimental results. Model generation and verification utilizes design automation techniques for generating multiple representations of the original, watermark, and watermarked FSMs. Analysis of the security provided by this method shows that a variety of attacks on the watermark and system including: (1) data-mining hidden functionality, (2) preimage, (3) secondary preimage, and (4) collision, can be shown to be computationally infeasible. Experimental results for the ten largest IWLS 93 benchmarks that the proposed watermarking technique is a secure, yet flexible, technique for protecting sequential circuit based IP cores.