Timothy Abbott

Timothy Abbott
Photo: Jason Dorfman, CSAIL photographer

Where did you grow up:

I spent my childhood in Houston, Texas, blocks away from Rice University. After 5th grade, I moved to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, just in time to graduate from elementary school twice.

What was your academic path before coming to grad school at MIT?

I learned how to think like a mathematician at the Ross Mathematics Program in Columbus, Ohio, during the summer after my sophomore year in high school. I went to high school at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Jefferson had a rare community of a few dozen students interested in doing advanced math, CS, and physics in their spare time, and they taught me a great deal. I attended MIT as an undergraduate, initially pursuing of mathematics, computer science, and physics. Over time my focus converged on computer science, but nevertheless I graduated with degrees in Mathematics and Physics.

What department are you currently working in, and when did you start there?

I joined EECS in Summer 2007.

What are you working on and why are you passionate about it?

I work in theoretical computer science. I'm excited about CS theory because it is a research area where the proper application of mathematical insight can change the world

What effect do you think your area of work will have on the world in the next decade?

I could make a lot of predictions here, but I think I'll go with a change that probably doesn't get the attention it deserves. I think that a decade from now, much of the population will have chronic hand pain, because so much of what people do to be productive in their daily lives will only be efficient while sitting at a computer.

What are your future plans?

I plan to design a zero-knowledge protocol through which I can convince you that I have a plan, without revealing to you anything about what that plan is. Then, I'll work on defeating my protocol's cryptographic assumptions, so that I can convince you that I have a plan even if I don't.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I'm Chairman of SIPB, MIT's student group dedicated to computing, and enjoy the passtime of creating useful computer services.