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Cynthia Dwork (born 1958) is an American computer scientist at Harvard University, where she is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Affiliated Professor, Harvard Law School.

Cynthia Dwork
Born 1958 (age 59–60)
Known for Differential privacy
Nonmalleable Cryptography
Awards Gödel prize (2017)
Dijkstra Prize (2007)
Scientific career
Fields Computer science
Institutions Harvard University


Early life and educationEdit

She is the daughter of American mathematician Bernard Dwork, and sister of historian Debórah Dwork.

Dwork received her B.S.E. from Princeton University in 1979, graduating Cum Laude, and receiving the Charles Ira Young Award for Excellence in Independent Research. Dwork received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1983. Her advisor was John Hopcroft.[1][2]


She is known for her research placing privacy-preserving data analysis on a mathematically rigorous foundation, including the co-invention of differential privacy, a strong privacy guarantee frequently permitting highly accurate data analysis (with McSherry, Nissim, and Smith, 2006).[3] It defines a type of privacy protection that randomizes data without impacting the dataset.[4] She uses a systems-based approach to studying fairness in algorithms including those used for placing ads.[5] Dwork has also made contributions in cryptography and distributed computing, and is a recipient of the Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize for her early work on the foundations of fault-tolerant systems.[6]

Her contributions in cryptography include Nonmalleable Cryptography with Dolev and Naor in 1991, the first lattice-based cryptosystem with Ajtai in 1997, which was also the first public-key cryptosystem for which breaking a random instance is as hard as solving the hardest instance of the underlying mathematical problem ("worst-case/average-case equivalence"). With Naor she also first presented the idea of, and a technique for, combating e-mail spam by requiring a proof of computational effort, also known as proof-of-work - a key technology underlying hashcash and bitcoin.

Awards and recognitionEdit

She was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in 2008,[7][8] as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2008,[9] as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014, as a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 2015,[10], and as a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2016.[11] She received the Dijkstra Prize in 2007 for her work on consensus problems together with Nancy Lynch and Larry Stockmeyer.[12][13] In 2009 she won the PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies.[14] 2017 Gödel Prize was awarded to Cynthia Dwork, Frank McSherry, Kobbi Nissim and Adam Smith for their seminal paper that introduced differential privacy.[15]



  1. ^ Hopcroft, John. "John Hopcroft's Webpage". Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mathematics Genealogy Project - Cynthia Dwork". Mathematics Genealogy Project. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Hartnett, Kevin. "How to Force Our Machines to Play Fair". Quanta Magazine. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "Behind "Differential Privacy," Apple's Way to See Your Data Without Seeing You". Wireless Week. 2016-06-16. Retrieved 2018-02-03. 
  5. ^ White, Gillian B. "When Algorithms Don't Account for Civil Rights". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-02-03. 
  6. ^ Knies, Rob. "Microsoft Research's Dwork Wins 2007 Dijkstra Prize". Microsoft Research Blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  7. ^ "Academy Home - American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  8. ^ "News - School of Engineering and Applied Science". Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ ACM Fellows Named for Computing Innovations that Are Advancing Technology in the Digital Age, Association for Computing Machinery, 2015, retrieved 2015-12-09 .
  11. ^ "Election of New Members at the American Philosophical Society's 2016 Spring Meeting" (PDF). Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  12. ^ PODC web site: Dijkstra Prize 2007.
  13. ^ Bortnikov, Edward (2007). "Review of DISC '07". ACM SIGACT News. 38 (4): 49–53. doi:10.1145/1345189.1386170. ISSN 0163-5700. .
  14. ^ "PET Award". Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  15. ^ Chita, Efi. "2017 Gödel Prize". Retrieved 10 April 2018. 


External linksEdit