"The Digital Envelope: A Crash Course In Modern Cryptography" Subject Of Institute Talk By Avi Wigderson

"The Digital Envelope: A Crash Course In Modern Cryptography" Subject Of Institute Talk By Avi Wigderson

Avi Wigderson, a Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in the School of Mathematics, will present a talk entitled "The Digital Envelope: A Crash Course in Modern Cryptography" on Wednesday, March 29, 2000. The lecture, part of the Institute’s 1999-2000 Faculty Lecture Series, is intended for a general audience and is open to the public. It will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the Institute, Olden Lane, Princeton. A Reception will be held in the Fuld Hall Common Room immediately following the lecture.

With the advent of computer technology, the Internet, and electronic commerce, cryptography has become an essential part of everyday life. While cryptography has existed for millennia, much of the theory enabling this revolution has been developed within Theoretical Computer Science in a dazzling, brief span of about ten years, starting in the late 1970s. In this talk Professor Wigderson will describe the fundamental assumptions of this theory. He will discuss the development of ideas and notions (such as one-way functions and zero-knowledge proofs) and how they enable basic tasks (such as secure communication) as well as arbitrarily complex tasks (such as playing a game of poker over the telephone).

Avi Wigderson, a widely-recognized authority in the field of theoretical computer science, became a permanent Faculty member at the Institute in July 1999. His work in the theory of computing takes up once again an area last explored at the Institute during John von Neumann’s tenure as a Faculty member.

The theory of computing, Dr. Wigderson’s main area of research, attempts to lay the mathematical foundations of computing by analyzing the power and limitations of various computational models in terms of their ability to solve computational problems. Many of the questions that arise in this field have mathematical and philosophical motivations, with corresponding implications. Other questions are directly motivated from outside, with corresponding applications in practice. At present, the field is extremely diverse, with many different facets, and it is still in a period of evolution and consolidation.

The theory of computing today is neither mathematical logic nor pure or applied mathematics. Although it draws from these disciplines to the extent that its connection to mathematics is absolutely fundamental, it is a new science which has created its own paradigms and problems by exploring the rich notion of efficient computation.

Dr. Wigderson was born in Israel in 1956. He received his B.Sc. in computer science summa cum laude from Technicon - Israel Institute of Technology, and his M.S.E., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Princeton University. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983-84; was a visiting scientist at IBM Research in 1984-85; and the following year was a Fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California. In 1986 he began his eight-year career at Hebrew University, where he served as a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, and then as Chairman (1993-95) and Professor (1991-1999) at the Computer Science Institute. In 1990-92 he came to Princeton University as Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, and in 1995-96 he was a visiting Member in the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study.

In 1994 Professor Wigderson received the Nevanlinna Prize, presented by the International Mathematical Union for outstanding work in the field of theoretical computer science. He is also a recipient of the Yoram Ben-Porat Presidential Prize for outstanding Researcher.