Cynthia Dwork is a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute and Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Dwork’s work focuses on ensuring fairness and privacy in the use of algorithms, the ubiquitous rules that make decisions in settings ranging from screening job applicants to targeted advertising of luxury resorts. A pioneer in the subfield of modern cryptography, she is renowned for placing privacy-preserving data analysis on a mathematically rigorous foundation. A cornerstone of this work is differential privacy, or specific tools and methods that allow researchers to analyze large data sets containing sensitive personal information—such as medical and mortgage application records—while preserving individual privacy.
Dwork received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and PhD from Cornell University. After a two-year post-doctoral appointment at MIT, she joined the IBM Almaden Research Center, where she remained until becoming Compaq Staff Fellow. In 2001 she joined the nascent Silicon Valley campus of Microsoft Research, fostering the growth of a world-class force in theoretical computer science. She has published more than 100 refereed journal and conference papers and holds two dozen US 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. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Association for Computing Machinery, among other honors.