Rena Friedman

Attending the ITCS conference, I was surprised to see how applicable the talks on theoretical Computer Science were. It seems that every two weeks, the public is faced with a news headline about a major company whose confidentiality is compromised, whether company email accounts were hacked or customer’s credit card information were exposed for the taking. Moving away from blows to big businesses, technology users are affronted with the dilemma of how much of their personal data can and should be available to businesses.

Much of the conferences talks were concerned with these questions, discussing variations of multi party protocols: how can we share data to resolve a community, city, or national issue while not compromising on an individual’s proprietary information? This is also known as the millionaire’s dilemma: how can 2 millionaires know whose assets are greater without revealing each millionaire’s net worth? Another popular presentation topic dealt with configuring new cryptographic algorithms, as governments and companies are seeking more sophisticated security systems.

ITCS gave me insight into the challenges facing today’s computer scientist and the rigorous (very proof driven!) work being done to fix some of today’s biggest problems. I enjoyed talking to the Phd students and researchers and hearing how they zeroed in on their particular areas of research. The conference gave me much to think about and exposed me to topics which I will surely tackle in my career.

It was a true privilege to be sponsored to attend such a broadening event. I hope other aspiring computer scientists will avail themselves of such opportunities from the ACM!