The Gödel Prize for outstanding papers in the area of theoretical computer science is sponsored jointly by the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) and the Association for Computing Machinery, Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory (ACM SIGACT). The Prize is named in honor of Kurt Gödel in recognition of his major contributions to mathematical logic and of his interest, discovered in a letter he wrote to John von Neumann shortly before von Neumann’s death, in what has become the famous “P versus NP” question. Gödel’s work has had an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century. The award recognizes his major contributions to mathematical logic and the foundations of computer science.
The 2017 Gödel Prize is awarded to Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council member Cynthia Dwork, Frank McSherry, Kobbi Nissim and Adam Smith for their paper, Calibrating Noise to Sensitivity in Private Data Analysis.
Dwork et al. looked at privacy preserving statistical databases. A statistic is a quantity computed from a sample. If the database is a representative sample of a population, the goal of a privacy-preserving statistical database is to enable the user to learn properties of the population as a whole while protecting the privacy of the individual contributors. To protect privacy, the true answer is perturbed by the addition of random noise generated according to a carefully chosen distribution, and this response, the true answer plus noise, is returned to the user. They found that for several particular applications substantially less noise is needed than was previously understood to be the case.
The 2017 Gödel Prize will be awarded at the 49th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, to be held from 19-23 June, 2017 in Montreal, Canada.