Cynthia Dwork has been awarded the 2017 Gödel Prize for her outstanding paper in the Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality. Dwork, the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), shares the award with coauthors Frank McSherry, Kobbi Nissim and Adam Smith.

The Gödel Prize is given annually by the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) and the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computational Theory (ACM SIGACT). It honors seminal work in theoretical computer science.

Dwork’s award-winning paper, published in 2006, introduced the idea of differential privacy. Differential privacy provides a strong privacy guarantee and a collection of methods that allow researchers to analyze large data sets containing sensitive personal information – such as medical and mortgage application records – while preserving the privacy of individuals’ personal information.

The research was conducted when Dwork was a member of Microsoft’s Silicon Valley laboratory.

Dwork has published more than 100 refereed journal and conference papers and holds two dozen U.S. and foreign patents for methods and systems designed to protect the privacy of communications networks and digital information, improve search systems, and reduce electronic spam.

Dwork is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and is a fellow of the ACM, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Dwork and her coauthors will receive the Gödel Prize at the 49th Annual ACM Symposium on the Theory of Computing in June. 

Previous SEAS winners of the Gödel Prize include Salil Vadhan and Madhu Sudan.