SHAFI GOLDWASSER 370.
(photo credit: Weizmann Institute)
The Turing Award of the Association for Computing Machinery – considered the
most prestigious prize for computing (as there is no Nobel Prize in the field) –
will go to cryptography expert Prof. Shafi Goldwasser of the Weizmann Institute
of Science’s computer science and applied mathematics
Goldwasser will share the $250,000 award with
Prof. Silvio Micali of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for
their “transformative work that laid the complexity- theoretic foundations for
the science of cryptography and, in the process, pioneered new methods for
efficient verification of mathematical proofs in complexity theory. Their work
involves innovations that became the gold standard for enabling secure Internet
The prize is funded by Intel Corporation and Google
Inc. and will be awarded at the Association for Computing Machinery’s
awards banquet on June 15 in San Francisco.
Goldwasser is the third
member of the Rehovot institute to receive the award. The others are professors
Amir Pnueli (1996) and Adi Shamir (2002). She is the fifth Israeli and the third
woman to win the prize.
The award is named in memory of Alan Turing, the British
“father” of computer science and artificial intelligence and a mathematician who
was a renowned codebreaker in the Second World War.
In their 1982 paper
on “Probabilistic Encryption,” Goldwasser and Micali laid the rigorous
foundations for modern cryptography. The work is universally credited in
changing cryptography from an “art” to a “science.”
This paper pioneered
several themes that are today considered basic to the field. These include the
introduction of formal security definitions that are now the gold standard for
security; the introduction of randomized methods for encryption that can satisfy
stringent security requirements that could not be satisfied by previous
deterministic encryption schemes; and the methodology of “reductionist proofs,”
which shows how to translate the slightest attack on security into a fast
algorithm for solving such hard classical mathematical problems as factoring
These proofs are a double-edged sword, in that they show that
one of two things must be true: Either we have a super-secure encryption scheme,
or we have new algorithms for factoring integers.
They developed the most
general method for proving security in cryptography, going beyond privacy to
define and prove security of authentication methods, security of software
protection schemes and security of cryptographic protocols that involve many
participants, for example electronic elections and auctions.
president of the Association for Computing Machinery, said the practical impact
of the ideas put forward by Goldwasser and Micali is “tangible. The encryption
schemes running in today’s browsers meet their notions of security. The method
of encrypting credit-card numbers when shopping on the Internet also meets their
test. We are indebted to these recipients for their innovative approaches to
ensuring security in the digital age.”
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon
University with a BA degree in mathematics, Goldwasser received advanced degrees
in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley and joined the
Weizmann Institute in 1993 as a full professor.