Shafi Goldwasser

Quick Facts

Born: 1958

Nationality: American-Israeli

Occupation: Computer Scientist

Research Interests: Cryptography, computational complexity theory and computational number theory

Known for: BlumGoldwasser cryptosystemand GoldwasserMicali cryptosystem

Childhood and Education 

Shafi was born in New York City. Her parents were Israeli and as a result Shafi had dual American/Israeli citizenship. Little is known of her childhood, apart from the facts that her parents decided to return to Israel after she was born and she attended school in Tel Aviv. After she finished high school, she returned to the United States, where she studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. During her studies she became interested in computer science and after graduating, commenced her postgraduate studies at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, where she obtained both her Masters degree and her PhD for the thesis about probabilistic encryption. During her postgraduate studies her focus shifted towards theoretical computer science and cryptography.  


After completing her education, Shafi joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1997 she became the first RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In 1993 she also became a Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She managed to reconcile work at the two universities and travelled frequently between United States and Israel. Her work focused mostly on cryptography, computational complexity theory and probabilistic algorithms. Together with her colleagues she designed the concept of zero-knowledge proofs and multi-prover proofs. Currently Goldwasser is head of the Theory of Computation Group, co-leader of the Cryptography and Information Security Group and a member of the Complexity Theory Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So far she has published around 100 papers, supervised numerous PhD students and was involved in research in various areas of cryptography including cloud security, code obfuscation and protection about side-channel attacks. Some of her most recent research includes Circular Security, Leakage Resilient Cryptography and Multi Party Computation.  

Awards and Achievements 

  • Some of the most prestigious awards Shafi Goldwasser has won are: 
  • Gödel Prize in 1993 for her paper on interactive proof systems (jointly with Shlomo Moran, Charles Rackoff, Silvio Micali and László Babai) and in 2001 for PCP theorem (also jointly) 
  • ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award in 1996 
  • RSA Award in Mathematics in 1998 for her contribution to the development of modern cryptography 
  • Turing Award in 2012 (jointly with Silvio Micali)