Michael O. Rabin

Michael O. Rabin

  • Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Research Professor of Computer Science


Michael Rabin, the Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Research Professor of Computer Science, has won every major prize in computer science and continues to contribute actively to major problems of encryption, privacy, and Internet security.

In 1935, as a young boy, Rabin left Nazi Germany with his family and settled in Palestine. He showed extraordinary promise in mathematics. In the mid-1950s, he went on to study—and later shape—the fledgling field of theoretical computer science. Rabin joined the Harvard faculty in 1981, when SEAS was still known as the Division of Applied Sciences..

Shortly after he completed his PhD, IBM invited him to a research workshop in Westchester County, N.Y. There he and Dana Scott collaborated on “Finite Automata and Their Decision Problems,” which was published in 1959. In 1976, the authors were honored with a Turing Award for their path-breaking work. 

In 1960, Rabin published a second groundbreaking paper, “Degree of Difficulty of Computing a Function and a Partial Ordering of Recursive Sets,” which provided the foundation for subsequent advances in cryptography and the theoretical study of computational complexity.

His work has emphasized nondeterministic and probabilistic processes. Many of his later, more applied projects reflect an underlying theme of adding randomness to algorithms, for example, in encryption methods, the prevention of Internet piracy and insuring anonymity and security in online auctions.

Contact Information

Office:349 Maxwell Dworkin Building
Office Phone:(617) 496-6294
Office Fax(617) 495-9837
Assistant:Carol Harlow
Assistant Office:Maxwell Dworkin 343
Assistant Phone:(617) 496-1440

Primary Teaching Area