Professor Florian Kerschbaum has received a 2022 Faculty of Mathematics Golden Jubilee Research Excellence Award. The $2,500 prize, conferred to faculty members who have made outstanding research contributions, was established in 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Mathematics.
Professor Kerschbaum completed his master’s degree at Purdue University in 2001, then a PhD in computer science from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2010, while employed full time at SAP as a chief research expert. He joined the Cheriton School of Computer Science in 2017 as an Associate Professor and was promoted to Full Professor on July 1, 2022. Professor Kerschbaum also served as the inaugural director of the Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute from 2018 to 2021.
About Professor Kerschbaum’s research
Professor Kerschbaum extends real-world systems with cryptographic security mechanisms to achieve provable security guarantees, research that is employed in several business applications. More specifically, he and his students develop methods that protect the security and privacy of data through encryption and perturbation with differential privacy, without sacrificing practicality and efficiency.
He has developed and helped deploy several application-specific methods for searching and computing on encrypted data. Among them is the development of a comprehensive set of searchable encryption algorithms for database operations. These include property-preserving encryption algorithms that enable efficient search without modification of the database management system and can withstand snapshot attacks much better than other property-preserving algorithms. Recently, he co-supervised graduate research that resulted in an oblivious algorithm that solves how to join two tables securely in cloud databases, research that resulted in his former master’s student, Simeon Krastnikov, receiving the 2021 Huawei Prize for Best Research Paper.
Professor Kerschbaum has also developed methods to compile secure multi-party computation protocols from ideal functionality specifications. He developed the first compiler optimization technique operating at the source language level, transforming an ideal functionality into a protocol that interleaves securely and locally computed steps.
He has also pioneered the use of multi-party computations in supply chain management, including protocols for planning, lot size planning, and detailed scheduling. With his previous doctoral student, Marek Jawurek, Professor Kerschbaum developed methods for maintaining privacy in smart grids. This included protocols for billing, spatial and temporal aggregation and demand-response verification that do not reveal a household’s consumption data, but are also secure against misreporting. For this research, his PhD student was awarded a prestigious 2014 ACM SIGSAC doctoral dissertation award.
As of July 2022, Professor Kerschbaum’s research has received more than 6,000 citations according to Google Scholar, with an h-index of 44. His many journal and conference publications include four that have received best paper awards. According to csrankings.org, he is Canada’s most productive researcher in computer systems.