Cynthia Dwork (born 1958) is an American computer scientist and a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research. Beginning in January 2017 she will be the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University.
She is known for her research placing privacy-preserving data analysis on a mathematically rigorous foundation, including the co-invention of differential privacy, a strong privacy guarantee frequently permitting highly accurate data analysis (with McSherry, Nissim, and Smith, 2006). Dwork has also made contributions in cryptography and distributed computing, and is a recipient of the Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize for her early work on the foundations of fault-tolerant systems. Her contributions in cryptography include Non-Malleable Cryptography (with Dolev and Naor, 1991), the first lattice-based cryptosystem (with Ajtai, 1997), which was also the first public-key cryptosystem for which breaking a random instance is as hard as solving the hardest instance of the underlying mathematical problem ("worst-case/average-case equivalence"), and the idea of, and a technique for, combating e-mail spam by requiring a proof of computational effort, also known as Proof-of-work, (with Naor, 1992). This is the technology underlying hashcash and bitcoin.
She was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in 2008, as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2008, as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014, and as a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 2015. She received the Dijkstra Prize in 2007 for her work on consensus problems together with Nancy Lynch and Larry Stockmeyer. In 2009 she won the PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies.
Dwork received her B.S.E. from Princeton University in 1979, graduating Cum Laude, and receiving the Charles Ira Young Award for Excellence in Independent Research. Dwork received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1983. Her advisor was John Hopcroft.
- Dwork, Cynthia; Lynch, Nancy; Stockmeyer, Larry (1988). "Consensus in the presence of partial synchrony". Journal of the ACM 35 (2): 288–323. doi:10.1145/42282.42283. — this paper received the Dijkstra Prize in 2007.
- Dwork, Cynthia; Roth, Aaron (2014). The Algorithmic Foundations of Differential Privacy (PDF). Foundations and Trends in Theoretical Computer Science. Now Publishers. ISBN 978-1601988188.
- "Microsoft’s Cynthia Dwork joins SEAS", Harvard Gazette, February 19, 2016.
- Academy Announces 2008 Class of Fellows.
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- PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies: Past Winners
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