Vivek Haldar

Zero Knowledge

Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali will receive the 2012 ACM Turing Award for their work in cryptography.

I encountered Goldwasser’s work during a graduate course in cryptography. I came across the idea of zero knowledge proofs, which is a technique for Alice to prove possession of a secret to Bob without actually giving away the secret. At the end of their interaction, Bob will be convinced that Alice possesses the secret, but will have no idea what it actually is. At first, this sounds completely paradoxical. How is that even possible? But it is.

Things like this still make me feel like crypto is the quantum mechanics of computer science, full of counter-intuitive and mind-bending results.

Here’s a talk I gave to the class back then. Deepest apologies for the chintzy PowerPoint theme. I blame it on youth.