Shafi Goldwasser, post-tenure RSA Professor at MIT EECS and CSAIL member, and a team of researchers were recently awarded the 2023 Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing for their paper, “Completeness theorems for non-cryptographic fault-tolerant distributed computation.”
Each year, the ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC) and the EATCS Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC) recognize papers that have made an outstanding impact on distributed computing, demonstrating an influence on the theory or practice of the field for at least a decade. These groups noted that Goldwasser and her team’s study helped introduce information-theoretic secure multi-party computations (MPC) and maximizing resilience while providing unconditional security.
The 1988 paper focuses on secure, efficient computations. In the study, Goldwasser and her team noted that if the total number of agents completing a function is greater than double the number of corrupted agents, no information besides the output would be revealed as long as there is a broadcast channel. This research influenced the design of cryptographic protocols while proving the results of major computational complexity theories like probabilistically checkable proofs.
Goldwasser’s decorated career includes earning a Turing Award alongside Silvio Micali in 2013, recognized by the ACM as “revolutionizing” cryptography. She helped develop systems that now ensure secure communications and transactions across the Internet, including zero-knowledge proofs, which authenticate without requiring passwords, and secure multi-party computation, which can keep certain details private when multiple groups compute information together. The MIT computer scientist has also worked on probabilistic encryption, proving that the process should be randomized instead of deterministic.
Currently, Goldwasser focuses on computational number theory, complexity theory, fault tolerant distributed computing, probabilistic proof systems, and approximation algorithms. She is the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing and Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California Berkeley while being the Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute. At CSAIL, she is a co-leader of the Cryptography and Information Security Group and a member of the Complexity Theory Group within the Theory of Computation Group.
Goldwasser also received the Barnard College Medal of Distinction and the Suffrage Science Award in 2016, the Simons Foundation Investigator Award in 2012, the IEEE Emanuel R. Priore Award in 2011, and the Franklin Institute Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science in 2010. Additionally, she is a member of AAS, ACM, NAE, NAS, Israeli Academy of Science, London Mathematical Society, Royal Society, and Russian Academy of Science.
Each author will receive a plaque and cash award this October at the DISC Conference in L'Aquila, Italy. Goldwasser and her team were previously honored for their paper at STOC 2021, winning a 30-year Test of Time award.