Fortifying the future of cryptography

As a boy growing up in a small South Indian village, Vinod Vaikuntanathan taught himself calculus by reading books his grandfather left lying around the house. Years later in college, he toiled away in the library studying number theory, which deals with the properties and relationships of numbers, primarily positive integers. This field of study naturally steered Vaikuntanathan toward what he calls “the most important application of number theory in the modern world”: cryptography. Today, Vaikuntanathan, a recently tenured associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, is using number theory and other mathematical concepts to fortify encryption so it can be used for new applications and stand up to even the toughest adversaries. One major focus is developing more efficient encryption techniques that can be scaled to do complex computations on large datasets. That means multiple parties can share data while ensuring the data remains private. For Continue reading Fortifying the future of cryptography

Democratizing data science

MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data. Democratizing data science is the notion that anyone, with little to no expertise, can do data science if provided ample data and user-friendly analytics tools. Supporting that idea, the new tool ingests datasets and generates sophisticated statistical models typically used by experts to analyze, interpret, and predict underlying patterns in data. The tool currently lives on Jupyter Notebook, an open-source web framework that allows users to run programs interactively in their browsers. Users need only write a few lines of code to uncover insights into, for instance, financial trends, air travel, voting patterns, the spread of disease, and other trends. In a paper presented at this week’s ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages, the researchers show their tool can accurately extract patterns and Continue reading Democratizing data science