EECS faculty member Shafi Goldwasser is among three at MIT selected as Simons Investigator by the Simons Foundation, as announced by the MIT News Office, today, July 24, 2012. In total, the Simons Foundation selected 21 mathematicians, theoretical physicists and theoretical computer scientists as Simons Investigators. Simons Investigators receive $100,000 annually to support their research. The support is for an initial period of five years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional five years. The goal of the program is to provide a stable base of support for outstanding scientists in their most productive years, enabling them to undertake long-term study of fundamental questions.
Goldwasser, the RSA professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, CSAIL, is noted for her work and impact on the development of cryptography and complexity theory particularly her extensive work on interactive and zero-knowledge proofs which allow secure transmission of information over the Internet. The system she designed makes it possible to demonstrate the validity of an assertion without conveying any additional knowledge (e.g., the possession of a valid credit card without giving out any particular information on it). This work later became a fundamental tool in the design of cryptographic protocols.
Goldwasser’s other research interests include complexity theory and computational number theory. She has made important contributions to both fields specifically to the classification of approximation problems, showing that there is a particular group of problems in number theory that remain hard even when only an approximate solution is needed. Among many recognitions, Goldwasser has won the Gödel Prize in theoretical computer science twice: first in 1993 for her work “The Knowledge Complexity of Interactive Proof Systems”, and again in 2001 for “Interactive Proofs and the Hardness of Approximating Cliques.” She has also won the RSA Award in Mathematics (1998) for significant contributions to cryptography and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, to the National Academy of Science in 2004, and to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005.