Dr. Tal Rabin, head of the cryptography research group at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center, has been elected to the 236th class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Tal is the 14th IBMer to receive this honor. The 213 members of the 2016 class span academic and intellectual disciplines, and include recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and Wolf Prize, as well as the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. The Academy is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, and boasts a membership of acclaimed academics, artists, scientists, and writers, as well as civic and business leaders. Novelist Colm Tóibín, La Opinión publisher and CEO Monica Lozano, jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, former Botswanan President Festus Mogae, autism author and spokesperson Temple Grandin, and Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson were also elected members this year.
Tal grew up in Jerusalem, where she enjoyed riddles and strategy games as a child. After receiving her BSc degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem during Israel’s high-tech slump of the late 1980s, opted to pursue a master’s degree in cryptography. Her master’s thesis showed that secure computations could be carried out even in the presence of only a majority of honest parties – a problem previously thought impossible. She continued on for her PhD, also at Hebrew University, which she earned in 1994, before accepting a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science. In 1996 she joined the cryptography group at IBM Research, which she has led since 1997.
Her research focuses on cryptography, specifically multiparty computations and the design of efficient and provably secure cryptographic protocols.
Tal has served on the committees of several leading cryptography conferences, and is a council member of the Computing Community Consortium. She has served as a member of the executive committee of SIGACT, and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Cryptology. She also co-organizes a biennial workshop for Women in Theory of Computer Science. In 2011 she was part of a panel on Cryptography in the World Science Festival. And In 2014, Tal was named a Woman of Vision for innovation by the Anita Borg Institute. Last year, she was named Fellow of the International Association of Cryptologic Research.
More about Tal
- World Science Festival: Keeping Secrets: Cryptography in a Connected World June 2011
- TEDxHunterCCS: Cryptography in Our Lives January 2012
- WNYC: Inside IBM’s Crypto Lab January 2014
- WNYC: The Take Away, Science Fair February 2014
She and the new class of Academy members will be inducted on October 8, 2016, at a ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts.