Associate Department Head Micali honored as part of 'Great Immigrants' initiative

July 7, 2015

Italian-American computer scientist recognized by the Carnegie Corporation for pioneering research in cryptography and information security.

Silvio Micali

(Photo: Silvio Micali)

Silvio Micali, the Ford Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and EECS associate department head, has been recognized by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of its “Great Immigrants: The Pride of America” initiative. The decade-old program celebrates naturalized U.S. citizens who have made outstanding contributions to American society, culture, and the economy.

Micali’s work on public-key cryptosystems and digital signatures revolutionized the science of cryptography. Born in Palermo, Sicily in 1954, Micali is one of 38 noteworthy immigrants named in a full-page ad in the July 4th edition of The New York Times.

“I am grateful for the United States’ openness to legal immigration,” Micali said. “The nation’s willingness to welcome me is unsurpassed, with one possible exception, which is MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.”

Micali and MIT colleague Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, co-won the 2012 A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as computing’s Nobel Prize, for their pioneering work formalizing the concept of cryptographic security. Their work laid the foundations for technology that makes secure online communication and financial transactions possible.

Micali completed his undergraduate studies in Rome, at La Sapienza University, where he studied mathematics. He received his PhD in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982, and joined the MIT faculty in 1983.

A principal investigator at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Micali is also the recipient of the 1993 Gödel Prize for advances in theoretical computer science and the RSA prize in cryptography. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The list of 2015 honorees includes members of from a wide range of professions, including Nobel laureates Arieh Warshel and Thomas C. Südhof, Pultzer Prize-winners Geraldine Brooks and Anne Telnaes, Google Engineering Director Craig Nevill-Manning, and television producer Lorne Michaels. The complete list of honorees, and more information about the Carnegie Corporation is available here.