Professor Florian Kerschbaum recognized by ACM as 2019 Distinguished Member

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Association for Computing Machinery has named Professor Florian Kerschbaum a Distinguished Member. He joins 62 individuals globally who have received this prestigious recognition in 2019 for outstanding scientific contributions. ACM Distinguished Members are responsible for an extraordinary array of achievements, reflecting many areas of research and practice in the field of computing and information technology.

photo of Florian Kerschbaum
“On behalf of ACM and the Committee, I am delighted that you will be among the inductees honoured with this designation and congratulate you on this well-deserved recognition,” wrote Rao Mannepalli, Chair of the ACM Distinguished Member Committee, in his letter to Professor Kerschbaum. 

Professor Kerschbaum, who is also the Executive Director of Waterloo’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute, has developed and helped deploy several application-specific methods for searching and computing on encrypted data. He has developed 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 order-preserving algorithms. 

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. 

Professor Kerschbaum is also a pioneer in using multi-party computations for supply chain management. This includes protocols for master planning, lot size planning, and detailed scheduling. These planning methods have enormous economic potential because they overcome hurdles to data sharing in current supply chain management planning. Collaborative methods have enormous savings potential over local planning, but they are not implemented in practice because of concerns over what the necessary data might reveal. Multi-party computations enable implementing the planning methods over encrypted data. As the coordinator of the EU-funded project SECURESCM, Professor Kerschbaum led an efficiency improvement in linear programming over encrypted data by more than five orders of magnitude. These works also include the first multi-party computation of an artificial intelligence optimization algorithm.

With his doctoral student Marek Jawurek, Professor Kerschbaum developed methods for the privacy-preserving operation of a smart meter infrastructure. 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. All of these protocols have been developed using the common technique of zero-knowledge proofs. Dr. Jawurek’s dissertation was awarded the prestigious ACM SIGSAC dissertation award.

Over his career, Dr. Kerschbaum’s work has resulted in 49 US patents to date. Since 2017 he has been an associate professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and since 2018 has served as the inaugural director of Waterloo’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute. Before his faculty appointment at Waterloo, he had been with SAP in Germany for 11 years. 

“Congratulations to Florian on being named a 2019 ACM Distinguished Member,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “This is a well-earned recognition for his work on application-specific methods to search and compute on encrypted data. He joins a distinguished group of colleagues globally and at the Cheriton School of Computer Science whose influential achievements have been recognized by ACM.”

Each year it is our honour to select a new class of Distinguished Members,” explains ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. “In everything we do, our overarching goal is to build a community wherein computing professionals can grow professionally and, in turn, contribute to the field and the broader society. We are delighted to recognize these individuals for their contributions to computing, and we hope that the careers of the 2019 ACM Distinguished Members will continue to prosper through their participation with ACM.

Professor Kerschbaum is the tenth faculty member at the Cheriton School of Computer Science to be recognized as a Distinguished Member by ACM, following Professors Jo Atlee (2016), Charles Clarke (2015), Don Cowan (2010), Mark Giesbrecht (2013), Ian Goldberg (2017), Ihab Ilyas (2014), Anna Lubiw (2009), Kenneth Salem (2017), and Jeffrey Shallit (2008).