Professor Shafrira Goldwasser of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has been named to the first RSA Professorship.
The new chair for faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and the Department of Mathematics was established this year in part by the proceeds from the licensing agreement between MIT and RSA Data Security Inc., for the company's public key encryption technology, one of the most widely used encryption techniques in use today. RSA public key technology was conceived and developed at MIT in 1977 by Professor Ronald Rivest, associate director of the Laboratory for Computer Science, and Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman, who were on the faculty of the Department of Mathematics at the time. The three men subsequently founded RSA Data Security, Inc., which was acquired by Security Dynamics Technologies Inc. of Redwood City, CA, last year.
Dr. Goldwasser is a recognized leader in complexity theory, number theory and cryptography. She joined the MIT faculty in 1983 after receiving a bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon University and MS and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley. Her major contributions to the field of computer science resulted in her receiving -- along with Professor of Computer Science Professor Silvio Micali and others -- the first Godel prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of theoretical computer science.
In 1996, Dr. Goldwasser also received MIT's Grace Murray Hopper Award, which is given to the outstanding young computer professional of the year.
"The RSA Professorship represents a productive partnership between the commercial and academic sectors," said Professor Paul Penfield, head of EECS. "We are pleased that Dr. Goldwasser will be the first beneficiary of this relationship."
"We are delighted to have helped make the RSA Chair possible at MIT," said Jim Bidzos, president of RSA. "We congratulate Professor Goldwasser, who is and has been one of the most important contributors to the field of cryptography."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 27, 1997.