FAU Researcher Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award for Cryptography

Mathematical Cryptography, National Science Foundation, NSF CAREER Award, Science

By gisele galoustian | 3/15/2021

A researcher from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science has received the coveted National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career (CAREER) award. The CAREER program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Shi Bai, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, received this award for his cutting-edge research in the fields of mathematical cryptography.

“With the recent advances in quantum computing, cryptosystems tailored to be quantum-safe are of great interest, and one of the most promising candidates for post-quantum cryptography is lattice-based cryptography,” said Bai. “At present, however, the concrete hardness of these lattice problems are not well understood.”

With the $500,675 NSF CAREER Award, Bai’s project will investigate the concrete hardness of lattice problems used in post-quantum cryptography. The project aims to provide new insights into the behavior of lattice reduction algorithms and quantitatively understand the hardness assumptions used in lattice-based cryptography.

The integrated educational initiatives includes a combination of mentoring, course (re)-design, and science communication activities, contributing to the development of a diverse STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce, focusing on the cybersecurity track.

“Beyond academic impacts, research findings from this NSF-funded project may contribute to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s  post-quantum cryptography standardization process, guide the parameter selection, and provide a systematic tool to the users of lattice-based cryptography," said Bai.

Bai’s research interests are in the fields of cryptography, computational number theory and analysis of algorithms. His recent research focuses on understanding the computational difficulties of the underlying mathematical assumption used in post-quantum cryptography.

“I am honored to receive the NSF CAREER award and very grateful for the support from the NSF,” Bai said. “This project is strategically aligned with the math department’s research on cryptography, algebra and data science. Many thanks to the continued support from the department and college, which benefit my research.”