Israeli, Hungarian, awarded ‘math Nobel’ for computer security achievements

OSLO, Norway — The Abel Prize, which honors achievements in mathematics, was awarded to Israeli Avi Wigderson and Hungarian Laszlo Lovasz for their contributions to computer security, the Norwegian Academy of Science said.

The pair were honored “for their foundational contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics, and their leading role in shaping them into central fields of modern mathematics,” the jury said last week.

Avi Wigderson, 64, a researcher at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, has widened and deepened the understanding of “complexity theory.”

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His research has led to advances in internet cryptography and serves as the basis for the technology powering crypto-currencies such as bitcoin.

In a short interview with the Abel Prize organization, Wigderson said: “I was very happy to hear it, I was somewhat surprised, and of course, I felt very honored.”

Talking about his field of research, computational complexity theory, which he describes as revolutionizing technology and science, Wigderson said: “Algorithms and computation take place not just in computers or between computer systems but actually everywhere in nature, in atoms, in matter, friends in Facebook, prices in an economy bacteria in a cell, and neurons in the brain.”

“Understanding and developing theories for these major scientific questions require understanding the computations in these systems, the resources they take,” he said.

Laszlo Lovasz gives an interview on March 17, 2021 (YouTube)

Lovasz, 73, who is affiliated with the Alfred-Renyi Institute of Mathematics and Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, is credited with establishing a connection between discrete mathematics, such as the theory of networks, and computer science.

Together with Dutch brothers Arjen and Hendrik Lenstra, Lovasz developed the LLL algorithm, which has applications in areas such as number theory, cryptography and…