Smith wins Test of Time award for paper

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A paper co-authored by Adam Smith, associate professor of computer science and engineering at Penn State, was recently selected as the winner of the Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC) 2016 Test of Time award.

"Calibrating Noise to Sensitivity in Private Data Analysis," by Smith, Cynthia Dwork (Microsoft Research), Frank McSherry (Microsoft Research) and Kobbi Nissim (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), was published in 2006. It was selected for introducing the definition of differential privacy and providing a solid mathematical foundation for a vast body of subsequent work on private data analysis.

The award goes to an "outstanding and influential paper, published in TCC at least eight years ago, which had a lasting impact on cryptography, theory, and beyond.”

According to Smith, the paper started a large and growing area of research on algorithms for analyzing a sensitive data set while preserving the privacy of the individuals whose data it contains.

“Differentially private algorithms have been deployed in both in industry, for example at Google, and in government, for example at the Census Bureau,” said Smith. “Differential privacy currently drives research in many areas, including statistics and machine learning, algorithms, cryptography, networking and information theory, databases, programming languages and economics.”

Smith said he was excited to receive the award, which he and his co-authors received last week in Tel Aviv at the annual TCC conference.

“It is a tremendous sign of recognition both for the authors of the paper and for the wide and diverse community of researchers that now work on differential privacy,” he said.

Smith studies cryptography and information privacy and their connection to such diverse fields as quantum mechanics, combinatorics, information theory and statistics. He looks at preserving privacy in the publication of statistical data, cryptography based on noisy secrets and quantum cryptography.

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Last Updated January 18, 2016