Khaoula Chehbouni wins the 2022 Award for the Best Master’s Thesis

May 5, 2023

Khaoula Chehbouni, a graduate of the Maîtrise en gestion (MSc) – intelligence d’affaires program has received the 2022 Award for the Best Master’s Thesis from HEC Montréal for Mitigating Online Grooming With Federated Learning, co-directed by faculty members Gilles Caporossi and Golnoosh Farnadi.


Protecting children online

According to Cybertip, reports of online luring cases have increased by 815% in the past five years*. These alarming figures reflect the isolation and significant rise in screen time caused by the pandemic, as well as the difficulties faced by parents in monitoring their children’s virtual environment. Even though mechanisms for ensuring children’s online safety do exist, they are often very intrusive and do not guarantee data privacy.

“We introduce an initial strategy for the early detection of online grooming** which aims to ensure a safe online environment for children while respecting their privacy. This is done by implementing a practical, cross-device, federated learning framework based on users’ textual conversations with formal differential privacy guarantees.”

La directrice de la maîtrise en gestion (M. Sc.) Sihem Taboubi et Khaoula Chehbouni.

Sihem Taboubi, Director of the MSc Program, and Khaoula Chehbouni.

Her research focused on three main issues:


An increased presence

Khaoula Chehbouni’s project gained visibility from very early on. Notable achievements on her part included presenting her work at IVADO Digital October and at 2 workshops in the NeurIPS 2022 Conference in New Orleans. The feedback that she received during these various events culminated in the writing and expansion of a paper on this topic.

Her thesis has also opened the door to the field of responsible artificial intelligence. Upon completing her master’s at the school, she worked as a data scientist specializing in ethics at Statistics Canada, before becoming a research assistant in ethics at Mila in January 2023. In September 2023, she will pursue a PhD in computer science which is being offered jointly by Mila and the Université de Montréal.

Read the award-winning thesis



Nineteen members of the student community were also singled out as finalists for the Best Master’s Thesis Award.

Name Specialization
Aïssatou Ba Économie appliquée
Habib Bardi Gestion de l’innovation sociale
Laurie Carmichael User Experience
Caroline Chaussegros de Léry Marketing
Mariana Cordova Perez User Experience
Camille Costes Marketing
Kaveh Dehkhoda Global Supply Chain Management
Rui Fan Data Science Business Analytics
Shady Guertin-Lahoud Expérience utilisateur
Félix Joly Transformation numérique des organisations
Caroline Lévesque-Pelletier Marketing
Chaïmae Merbouh Transformation numérique des organisations
Elinora Pentcheva Marketing
Marie-Michèle Percio Marketing
Marisa Keya Radatz Data Science Business Analytics
Laurie-Jade Rochon Expérience utilisateur
Benjamin Semujanga Gestion des ressources humaines
Jenna Yee Kin Hiung Intelligence d'affaires
Yilin Zhang Applied Financial Economics


* Source :
** All the strategies used by predators to lure children into sexual exploitation.

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