And pressing record now and it looks like it's moving so I can introduce myself really quick. I am an undergraduate student studying history with the in with Indiana University and I'm working for our center of Excellence for Women and Technology doing research on.
Pioneers in female pioneers in the field of cryptography.
Murphy and we have been compiling historical information starting in World War One and going all the way through to contemporary pioneers, and so that is why I am in talking to you today because your name. It consistently has come up as as a, uh, uh.
Woman pioneer in this field. In the modern day and so to get started, I kind of wanted to ask how you how you got interested in cryptography. Your experiences just generally in this field and kind of.
How how you got?
Got your start and where you see yourself going.
A long way ahead, but.
OK, first of all, how did I get started then?
Sometimes I'm a.
Little bit of luck, which at the beginning even seemed this bad luck. But when I graduated from my undergrad.
Uhm, there was a a slump in the tech industry in Israel. Probably the only time ever.
The slump and I decided to continue studying to go for in Israel. You have to do a masters program for the program.
And I decided to do that. Try and see how it.
And I chose an advisor whose area was cryptography, so it was sort of also just because of the advisor that was available at the time, and he gave me a problem and I solved it and I loved it. Yeah, and from there on it was clear I continued on to a pH. D.
Remained in this area since then. I finished my pH. D in 95 so a long time.
And that's sort of about the best going forward. I think I'm gonna end up being a cryptographer for the rest of my life at this point, uhm?
I, in fact though, had a career change. Recently I worked at IBM research. Since I finished my post Doc, which was in 1996. Yes, and I'd been there for 23 years. But recently I moved. At first I moved to a place called Dalgren Foundation, which is a foundation.
Related to a cryptocurrency.
And as of September of 2020, I'm a professor at Upenn.
Can you oh, sorry.
No, go ahead.
Can you talk a?
Little bit about how being a professor and the priorities of your research at University of Pennsylvania versus the priorities of the research done in in the private sector.
OK, so first of all I was at IBM research. IBM research is not really, I mean private sector in the sense that IBM is a company. But IBM research is a little bit of a a unique environment that really you can conduct research.
If you do well.
Fairly similar to what people do in in academia. We had applied to grants from organizations such as DARPA, ARPA, and so on, and our Co applicants were all people in university, so it was very similar to that.
Part of the reason that I moved to university.
Is not so much to change my research in cryptography and the things that I focused on on that aspect, but really, for a completely different reason which was advancing women in this area.
Uhm, computer science cryptography?
Uhm, suffer from not having a lot of female.
Participation, participation there are very very few women.
And what I had felt at IBM was that I could address the the supply issue only at two later stage in the process that I was.
I even designed the program for pH D women students who are in the area of theory of computer science, but they were. These were already students who've decided that they want to do a.
PH D so.
They were already invested.
Yeah, and they've already made some decisions along the line.
But I felt that.
Uh, maybe reaching students in the undergrad level. You know, I could do more and influence these things and have a greater impact.
I've only been there short time and all through kovid, so I still don't know how these things will work out and exactly what I'll be able to.
Do, but this was part of the motivation to really leave IBM research and go to university environment.
OK, can you talk a little bit more about? Obviously there's a supply issue, so there seems to be some barriers.
Can you talk a little bit more on the barriers you see for women entering this field and maybe talk on your your personal experience with that?
So if we knew better what the barriers were, we would know to address them better, but I think that part of the issue is that we don't fully understand what's preventing women.
From going into computer science, and by the way, it's not that I want them necessarily all to go and do a PhD. I just want more women to study computer science as a area in general.
And then benefit from the huge things that this area can offer the jobs out there are fascinating. Salary is good. You have a good life at.
You can do things from philanthropic things that in need computer science to being all the way the hacking is tackling that there is. I mean, it's really a huge range of possibilities, but
Women don't engage in this area, and they're giving all the benefits of these jobs to the guys out there, but I don't know to say exactly what's.
Hindering this advancement?
Some things are for example.
It's a very.
Uh, funny example or not funny or sad rather, but I was. My daughter is a TH in some.
She's an underground she days. Some computer science class and there are many TAS in this class and dumb.
A on the slack of the TAS, one of the guy TAOI had 52 students come through in a 2 hour session and the teacher said wow, that's amazing. You broke my record.
And I was thinking to myself, 52 students in 120 minutes he spoke to each student 2 1/2 minutes just to go from their general zoom room into the private zoom room. I mean at this point, what kind of help is he giving these students?
And the professor.
Also applauding it, but I think but I see my daughter, my daughter has the same 2 hour TA session but she stays five hours because.
She talks to the students, and she invests once more.
And so on, so.
What I come to say about this is that the some of the things that are admired by the computer science community.
Guys sort of leading and driving. These things are things that are foreign to us that we don't see them as a value.
So, so it's sort of the atmosphere in the area is determined by things that.
Are not a match for us. Then we sort of get.
We ourselves choose to step aside.
Yeah, that that.
That's not good.
That I that's an interesting perspective I. I haven't heard that before, so I'm. I'm glad you brought that up.
Uhm, you've mentioned UM your thumb work in UM in helping not only women in this field, but also women.
Rights in general.
Would you mind talking a little bit more on the paper you published in 2019? Cryptography for me too?
I had a great time.
OK, I I I didn't say that I help women in general. I said that I I tried to advance women in the field and up to now my focus has been on PhD students in the area of theory of computer science, paper cryptography, cryptography for hashtag me too.
Is just to try and show that you can do.
Who you can provide solutions that will give privacy to women by the way, not women to anybody who wants to complain.
Men need to complain as well, or any person might need to complain. And what we've seen is that when there's a.
A few people.
They come up out against the specific person. Once they get it gains momentum and and people are encouraged. They get strength from the group from having someone, but the question is how do you find the group when you're not willing to say yet that you have had something happen?
So what this cryptography for hashtag me too, is is a protocol that utilizes some trusted parties. Let's say a set of trusted parties. Somebody from the ACLU. Somebody from my times up. Or you know, a few organizations.
Joined together to create sort of a trusted entity, but you don't send your complaint to that trusted entity in the clear. You use cryptographic techniques that enable you to send your complaint.
And once, let's say, some predetermined number, 33 people have complained against the same person, the system will manage to calculate this to compute that to figure it out that there are three people that complained against exactly the same person and to notify these three.
People and then they can decide whether they want to join forces and do so.
It's sort of a mechanism to privately find other people who want to complain against the same person.
OK, so that is a really interesting application of your your research.
Can you talk a little bit more about your research in theory and how it applies and how people who may not be pH?
D's are really actively engaged in the cryptography community on how they see that in their daily lives.
OK, so first of all, cryptography as a whole is in my area of research is something that you all use all the time.
I mean now when you go to your phone to your social media, when you go to your bank.
Cryptography basically is the mathematical basis for everything in the Internet that you consider to be security and privacy. This is how it's implemented using cryptography. So how cryptography comes into the lives of the people? It's all all over.
But that's in general my specific area of research within cryptography is something that's called multiparty computations.
And this area is supposed to provide.
Privacy in computation. Exactly like this example that I gave you about the hashtag Me 2 and but the applications for this are broad and wide.
And especially now that there are privacy regulations coming up all over like GDPR in Europe and so on.
We need to provide solutions that preserve the privacy and of the input. Think about it, two hospitals. They each have data of patients.
Due to HIPAA, they cannot share the data, but research wants to look at both databases and sort of get the utilization from the from all the data together. So the question is, how do you do that without violating the privacy constraints?
In my area of multiparty computations, exactly enables to do these things. It would enable the researcher to work with both the databases, get the answers that it wants without violating the privacy of the data so.
This area of multiparty computations, which in fact started in the early 80s and has been a very interesting theoretical area of research, has really flourished into something that is needed in practice to to all these privacy regulations.
So it was sort of a transition over time from extremely theoretical solutions, then sort of in the beginning of the 2000s. People were trying to get it more and more practical, and that sort of has been continuing for the past 20 years, and now I think that really it's gonna eventually get used because it's.
OK, so then you kind of have talked about how it started out in theory and has moved into more practical applications. How do.
People in your field keep up with the this ever evolving. Every time I come, I've been I've been doing.
I've been diving into this research a lot more, and every time I I look there's something new that's come out. There's something there's some change. How do? How do people keep up with that? How do you?
Solve problems that we don't necessarily even recognize as problems, I guess.
So you've asked two questions, how do you keep on top of development? This is true in any research where whichever one it is that you're involved in, you have to go to the conferences, read the publications, speak to your peers, hear what's going on on. But that's the same no matter.
Uh, research area you're in, but then you.
Have something at the end? What was it?
It was, it was how it seems like you guys are solving problems that that people.
Oh OK, OK.
Aren't even viewing as issues yet.
So first of all.
That's something that's also.
Interesting and research in general is choosing the problems that you work on and sometimes really it's a question of whether you make the problem up in your head and then you try to solve it and maybe it won't be interesting later, and maybe it would be interesting.
But sometimes problems also come from externally, because there is a problem out there that needs to be addressed, and then you try to solve it.
So there is sort of this.
There is sort of this.
Some external fertilization, but also it could be the case that people just dream up the problems they work on them and for a long time they don't. Even the solutions aren't even interesting, but suddenly something comes along.
And it looks, Oh my God, look what we did 10 years ago is suddenly relevant. So it it's a mix of these things.
OK, and so then what do you think are the biggest problems being solved in cryptography today? And can you maybe talk a little bit about your recent work with like blockchain and deep learning?
Two questions, all connected, sorry OK.
That one second, my daughters. Just wait, I'm gonna call.
He's in the supermarket. Should I buy strawberries? Should I buy bananas OK?
It it? That's a that's a hard thing you you've got to get the right the right stuff.
Uhm, deep learning I am. I'm not working on that closely. I had one paper about it but.
There are a lot of very interesting questions in cryptography currently.
Many of them is really. I think there are a lot of interesting theoretical problems which are open, but I think that now really we're also in this time where it's an opportunity now to bring the theory into practice, and I think that for many of the questions this is a challenge now.
And this is a talk on top of other interesting questions, like indistinguishability obfuscation and other things post quantum crypto. There are a lot of things that are going on at any given time.
And that's true for any research. UM, I personally own, you asked also about blockchain, so blockchain definitely is a very very exciting development for cryptography.
Crypto has always had a latency between the time that things were developed and time that they really started getting used.
Most notably, even encryption we've known how to encrypt for, I don't know. Let's say from the mid 70s and and the broader popular.
Station, but really until the the Internet came along and it's and all the vulnerabilities and the attacks and so on.
The need the desperate need was not evident. Of course people were encrypting already when the Internet started, but really, totally secure website and so on.
When I started going to website, you didn't have the little lock on every website. Websites were not secure, so these things definitely sort of arises in need.
Blockchain technology suddenly took things that were developed in the 80s and Byzantine agreement. That proof of work, all kinds of concepts, verifiable random functions, a lot of stuff that crypto had already designed.
And were around.
And suddenly this thing came about and utilized these things.
And was a huge thing for us huge.
And now it's a household name, right?
A blockchain proof of work. All these things, something everybody knows about these things and it's amazing. And it gave crypto a huge boost and and when I say boost even really.
And the financial aspect that there is money to support research on these things so.
Wonderful all around.
Really, something that made, uh.
A meaningful change for our field and what's nice is really.
To see that these techniques, as I said before you know, people think about problems.
And then they're not used for a long time, but then suddenly something comes around and you say we have that in our toolbox and we can use it even though it was developed eons ago. So it's nice to see that.
And this forward thinking.
That makes a lot of sense. It it's things coming coming together to work for for something much larger.
So kind of a change in questioning given the depth and the breadth of your work, that you've done designing cryptographic algorithms.
Is there a particular problem that you would characterize as the most difficult problem you problem you've?
Ever had to?
Solve and then why was solving that problem so important?
For you or for for the field.
So I think that somehow, uhm.
The problem that I solved in my masters, which is the reason that I stayed on in the field also.
Because of it.
Personal, really monumental effect on my life that really changed the course of what I was going to be doing. I think that this sort of is for always will be my most precious.
Some work, it's probably also my most cited work and.
It was a new area. This area of multiparty computation and this problem. People even thought that.
It couldn't be solved.
You couldn't do that. You couldn't solve this problem, so there was something very nice and I felt a sense of accomplishment.
Uhm, about it. So I guess that forever will be my most beloved problem.
And the hardest problems, of course. The ones that you don't see.
That you know that I haven't actively worked on them for a long time, but there are problems that have been open for 40 years and yeah.
So you are are very, very accomplished you. I know that you were named.
Come the Anita or you won the Anita Borg Institute of Women Vision Award for innovation. You have been named one of the most powerful engineers in the world by Business Insider, you've founded.
The women in technology or women Theory workshop. What is the legacy that you hope to lead lead with that?
What do you come?
I don't know. I don't think in ways of legacy. No, I just I do what I wanna do. What I think is helpful at the time and.
To leave things in a better state than they were before.
OK, that that is a legacy worth leading leaving 100% and I I want to be respectful of your time.
I really appreciate you you taking the time to speak with me on your on your Monday evening. UM, so my my last.
Question is, do you have any recommendations or advice for women entering the field of cyber cryptography and or informatics in general? What would you wish you would have known and and using your your breadth of knowledge or dynamic?
As a bit of background, do you have any advice?
Dress is very.
Difficult to give and I think that.
Advice is very very personal. Every person needs a different type of advice but.
Sort of, an observation is that.
It's difficult and.
When you notice that it's difficult for you just.
Don't let it get you down. No persevere and push forward because it's worth it.
And it could be that this area of computer science is more challenging than others because there's so few women.
So and and this is an advice.
Find your women peers.
And create a union with them.
To help each other get through this.
Difficult times. Whenever they come, it's surprising of how.
The problems that we face have a lot of intersection that people face the same things, but I want to say it's not just the women who face these problems. The men faced them as well, they just.
Maybe do not talk about it as much or do not let them affect this them this much but.
It's difficult for them to, but fine friends will help you get through the difficult times.
But that's true for everything, not just computer science for life.
Thank you you that you are so correct. I cannot say how much of an honor it has been to to just take a little bit of your time today so.
I I really appreciate your your work and and your time.
Thank you, you should be so appreciated. I I appreciate everything you said, but believe me I do not perceive myself the way that you've described me, but that's OK.
No, it has been I come. This is a field that I am not familiar with and so I very much got to dive in from a historical perspective and and bringing it through to contemporary women. I have just been absolutely in awe of of.
How people approach problems in in in ways that I just would would never like conceive of doing and so it's been.
It's I've had a, uh, a really wonderful time getting to learn more about about this and and also just the the really wonderful, powerful and intelligent women who are were leading this.
Field so I I'm I'm I'm really thankful.
Thank you for all the nice things you said.
Of course, of course well.
You have a nice evening. Get home. Maybe it's.
So what's going to be the end product of this thing?
The end product of this is hopefully going to be a, uh, a database of of biographies and of information about women in this field. A lot of times.
They historically women their successes and achievements have been taking credit for by, by men and so on. The historical perspective. It's it's bringing their research to the forefront and then creating a a long term timeline of.
Women female achievement in in this field and making that available, hopefully to be used in either other people.
Research, or in or and in curriculum within the university. A lot of our intro informatics classes tend to to gloss over the achievements of of of women in this field and our goal. I'm working with the director, doctor Maureen Biggers.
Who is the director of Suwit and the First Lady of the University to make this a priority within informatics education?
I see OK so good luck to.
You, and then when there's something.
I need to get a link to see.
Of course, thank you so much. Uh, MEWF a nice evening.
You too bye.