UCLA Computer Science Professor Receives $1.5 Million Grant from NTT Research

Agreement with global technology and business solutions provider will enable cryptography explorations

Feb 26, 2020

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

UCLA computer science professor, Amit Sahai, has received $1.5 million in support from NTT Research, a division of NTT, to support his research on the leading edge of cryptography, the field of secure communications. NTT announced today the agreement early Tuesday in San Francisco at the RSA Conference, the world’s leading annual information security conference.

The scope of work for the five-year agreement covers advanced secure cryptosystems, secure protocols, new sources of hardness and mathematical foundations of cryptography. The research will be conducted with NTT Research’s Cryptography and Information Security (CIS) Laboratory, a division engaged in basic research of cryptography with the potential for long-term impact.

“NTT’s commitment to fundamental research is evident in its generous support, and we are very grateful its research team shares our vision,” said Sahai, who has made pioneering advances in cryptography and theoretical computer science. “This will enable our explorations into the boundary between the possible and the impossible with regards to cryptography. We’ll be able to answer difficult questions, and then turn that new knowledge into innovative applications.”

For example, one of the questions Sahai hopes to answer is: “What kinds of equations are too hard for a computer to solve, even when given a million years to work on them?” Answers to that question could lead to new advances in information security technologies and programs.

Sahai is also the director of the Center for Encrypted Functionalities, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. He is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and the International Association for Cryptologic Research. Sahai joined the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering in 2004, after starting his academic career at Princeton University.

“Basic research requires taking a long-range view,” said Tatsauki Okamoto, CIS Lab Director and an NTT Fellow. “This five-year agreement with UCLA allows us to extend the horizon, while partnering with an expert in cryptographic theory whose research nicely complements path-breaking work that our Distinguished Scientist Brent Waters has undertaken.”

NTT Research opened its Palo Alto offices in July 2019 as a new Silicon Valley startup to conduct basic research and advance technologies that promote positive change for humankind. The company includes three divisions: the CIS Lab, the Physics and Informatics (PHI) Lab, and the Medical and Health Informatics (MEI) Lab. NTT Research is part of NTT, a global technology and business solutions provider with an annual R&D budget of $3.6 billion.