Shafi Goldwasser

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Shafrira Goldwasser (born 1958) is the RSA Professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and a professor of mathematical sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Born in New York City, she obtained her B.S. (1979) in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, and M.S. (1981) and Ph.D (1983) in computer science from UC Berkeley. She joined MIT in 1983, and in 1997 became the first holder of the RSA Professorship. She is a member of the Theory of Computation group at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Goldwasser's research areas include complexity theory, cryptography and computational number theory. She is the co-inventor of zero-knowledge proofs, which probabilistically and interactively demonstrate the validity of an assertion without conveying any additional knowledge, and are a key tool in the design of cryptographic protocols. Her work in complexity theory includes the classification of approximation problems, showing that some problems in NP remain hard even when only an approximate solution is needed.

For these groundbreaking results, Goldwasser has twice won the Gödel Prize in theoretical computer science: first in 1993 (for "The knowledge complexity of interactive proof systems"), and again in 2001 (for "Interactive Proofs and the Hardness of Approximating Cliques"). Other awards include the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award (1996) for outstanding young computer professional of the year and the RSA Award in Mathematics (1998) for outstanding mathematical contributions to cryptography. In 2001 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2004 she was elected to the National Academy of Science, and in 2005 to the National Academy of Engineering.

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