Shafi Goldwasser: Cryptography pioneer

Shafi Goldwasser

Shafi Goldwasser (M.S.’81, Ph.D.’84 CS), director of Berkeley’s Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, is one of only three women to have won the A.M. Turing Award, considered the Nobel Prize of computing. Throughout her career, Goldwasser has made major contributions to cryptography, computational complexity, computational number theory and probabilistic algorithms. She helped create the theoretical foundations for zero-knowledge proofs, which are finding applications in new privacy-oriented digital technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

In a citation for the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, which Goldwasser received in early 2018 with three long-time collaborators, her contributions were summarized like this: Their work “is crucial to the fabric of our connected digital society. Every time we log in to social media, purchase goods online, or vote or sign electronically, we leverage the technology developed by their research.”

Goldwasser was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and the National Academy of Engineering in 2005. Additional awards include the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, the RSA Award in Mathematics, the ACM Athena Lecturer Award (2009), the Benjamin Franklin Award in Computer and Cognitive Science (2010) and the IEEE Emanuel Piore Award (2011).

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