IBMer earns "Genius Grant"

Share this post:

Craig Gentry’s cryptography recognized by MacArthur Foundation
In 2009, computer scientist Craig Gentry solved a cryptography problem – one posed in 1978. The problem: can encrypted data be analyzed without being accessed? Thought impossible for more than 30 years, Craig’s “fully homomorphic encryption” technique did just that. And the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation took notice. They recognized the impact this solution may have on cloud computing and how we protect information on the web by naming him a MacArthur Fellow.
“It has the potential to pave the way for more secure cloud computing services – without having to decrypt or reveal original data,”  said Craig. His team later earned a patent for the efficient implementation of fully homomorphic encryption.
He explained to the Foundation how homomorphic encryption works with a physical analogy of the fictitious “Alice’s Jewelry Store.
“Alice wants her workers to turn raw materials into rings and necklaces, but she doesn’t trust her workers. So, she creates these glove boxes that have locks on them. She then puts the raw materials inside and locks the box. The workers can stick their hands into the box’s gloves to manipulate the raw materials to create the jewelry. And then she can unlock the box to remove the finished piece.
“This is what I try to do with cryptography (and could apply to cloud computing).”
Craig Gentry on what it means to earn the “genius grant” (its unofficial title since the first Fellows were named in 1981).

The MacArthur Foundation extends each Fellow “a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, paid out over five years, with no stipulations or reporting requirements, and allows recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.” And while the Foundations does lay out its processfor choosing the Fellows, the award has achieved near-mythic status as no one can apply, no one knows if they are being considered, and when they’re told, they’re sworn to secrecy until the official announcement.

More stories

A new supercomputing-powered weather model may ready us for Exascale

In the U.S. alone, extreme weather caused some 297 deaths and $53.5 billion in economic damage in 2016. Globally, natural disasters caused $175 billion in damage. It’s essential for governments, business and people to receive advance warning of wild weather in order to minimize its impact, yet today the information we get is limited. Current […]

Continue reading

DREAM Challenge results: Can machine learning help improve accuracy in breast cancer screening?

        Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women. It is estimated that one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that 99 percent of women whose breast cancer was detected early (stage 1 or 0) survive beyond five years after […]

Continue reading

Computational Neuroscience

New Issue of the IBM Journal of Research and Development   Understanding the brain’s dynamics is of central importance to neuroscience. Our ability to observe, model, and infer from neuroscientific data the principles and mechanisms of brain dynamics determines our ability to understand the brain’s unusual cognitive and behavioral capabilities. Our guest editors, James Kozloski, […]

Continue reading