New York University's Subhash Khot, an associate professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has received the National Science Foundation's 2010 Alan T. Waterman Award, which is given annually to an outstanding young researcher in any field of science and engineering supported by NSF. The honor includes a grant of $500,000 over three years for scientific research or advanced study in any field of science.
Khot is a theoretical computer scientist and works in an area called "Computational Complexity" which seeks to understand the power and limits of efficient computation.
"Subhash Khot is a gifted and ambitious young scientist," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. "He courageously tackles some of the most challenging computational problems, all the while advancing computer security, with vast consequences for the broader security of our personal identities, commercial interests, societal institutions...even for national security as a whole."
"Subhash is a brilliant theoretical computer scientist and is most well known for his Unique Games Conjecture," added Jeannette Wing, assistant director for NSF's Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate. "He has made many unexpected and original contributions to computational complexity and his work draws connections among optimization, computer science, and mathematics."
A fundamental phenomenon in computer science is the existence of computational problems that cannot be solved fastthat is, they are "computationally intractable." This has far-reaching consequences. For instance, it limits our ability to tackle large-scale problems arising in science and engineering, such as optimal design of protein folding. On the other hand, it makes computer security possible as computational intractability prevents hackers from accessing personal information stored in online databases. Understanding and addressing this phenomenon, therefore, has huge poten
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New York University