Cynthia Dwork: It’s in Your Phone. It’s in Your Browser. It’s in Your Redistricting Data! … It’s Differential Privacy.

Dec 7, 2023, 5:30 pm6:45 pm
McCosh Hall, Room 50, Princeton 08544, United States


Event Description

Cynthia Dwork, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard, and Affiliated Faculty at the Harvard Law School and the Department of Statistics, is renowned for placing privacy-preserving data analysis on a mathematically rigorous foundation.  A cornerstone of this work is Differential Privacy, a strong privacy guarantee permitting sophisticated data analysis. Differential Privacy is widely deployed in industry, including in every Apple device, and is the backbone of the Disclosure Avoidance System for the 2020 US Decennial Census.

Dwork joined Harvard after more than thirty years in Silicon Valley's industrial research labs.  Some of her earliest work established the pillars on which every fault-tolerant system has been built for decades.  Her innovations modernized cryptography to address the "wild West" of ungoverned interactions on the internet, provided a proof-of-concept for post-quantum cryptography, and formed the basis of crypto-currencies.  Via a connection to differential privacy, she developed the first general approach to ensuring validity in exploratory data analysis, where the questions asked depend on the data themselves.

In 2012, Dwork initiated the theoretical investigation of algorithmic fairness,  her current principal focus and the driving line of inquiry of her recently launched Hire Aspirations Institute, a multi-disciplinary endeavor devoted to fairness in hiring platforms.


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