Cynthia Dwork wins the Knuth Prize 2020

One of the most prestigious awards in computing, in the United States, has been awarded to a scientist with a frankly enviable resume. Let's talk about Cynthia Dwork.

Computation is increasingly present in everyday life. Simply the quarantine caused by COVID-19 has made us see how important the Internet is today and how it is helping us to deal with this problem.

Therefore, the prizes awarded to those who work with original contributions in computing are essential to continue motivating this niche.

The Knuth Prize winner

It is always pleasant to know when a prize is awarded to those who compute. In this case it has been awarded to Cynthia Dwork , who has received the Knuth Prize, in honor of one of the most important computer scientists on the planet.

Donald Knuth is the creator of the book series “The Art of Programming”, a work that seeks to reach ten volumes and that has been a fundamental part in the development of this science.

Dwork is awarded the award for the development of differential privacy, and for her work on non-malleable encryption, based on meshes and concurrent composition.

The Knuth Prize consists of $ 10,000 and was established in 1996. It is awarded annually to individuals for their contributions to the fundamentals of computer science.

Several organizations support this effort: the ACM Task Force Interested in Computing Theory and Algorithms (SIGART) and the IEEE Computer Committee on Mathematical Foundations of Computing (TCMF, for its acronym in English).

The Prize has been baptized in honor of Donald Knuth, who is considered to be “the father of the analysis of algorithms” although there are those who call her “the Euclid of computer science”.

According to SIGART’s statement , Cynthia Dwork of Harvard University:

«She is one of the most influential theorists of her generation. Her investigations have transformed many fields, notably those of distributed systems, cryptography, and data privacy. Her work right now promises to add justice to algorithmic decisions. “

 Who is Cynthia Dwork ?

Dwork received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1979 and her doctorate from Cornell University in 1983.

She completed two years of post-doctorate at MIT and joined the IBM Almaden Research Center. In 2001,she moved to Microsoft Research. She took the Gordon McKay professorship at Harvard’s Paulson School and the Harvard-based Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies in 2017.

This award is basically given to her for two areas of his work: cryptography and privacy in a network environment.

Her most interesting work has to do with differential privacy, which guarantees strong privacy and a collection of methods that allow researchers to analyze large data sets containing sensitive personal information, as in the case of medical or credit information.

Dwork, however, is interested in algorithmic justice, which is the subject of the lecture she gave as part of her presentation upon joining the Radcliffe Institute.

In her opinion, there is a growing concern about the values ​​that have to do with privacy and justice as computing is increasingly incorporated into the everyday world.

Not First Prize for Dwork

Cynthia Dwork
Cynthia Dwork

Cynthia Dwork has been recognized many times for her contributions. She was chosen to be part of the National Academy of Engineering in 2008 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2014. She is a “fellow” (something like a degree of distinction between professionals), of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences ( 2008), as well as a member of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), in 2015.

In addition she has already been awarded the Dijkstra Prize in 2007 for her work on problems of consensus, along with Nancy Lynch and Larry Stockmeyer.

In 2009 she won the PET (Privacy Enhancing Technologies) Prize and the Gödel Prize in 2017, along with Frank McSherry, Kobbi Nissim and Adam Smith, for their work on differential privacy.

In 2019, she was also awarded the IEEE Hamming Medal for her fundamental work in privacy, cryptography and for being the leader in differential privacy.


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