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Computer Science Professor Amit Sahai along with three of his former graduate students have received the 2016 Test-of-Time Award from the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Computer and Communications Security. The award honors work that, ten years from its publication, has had a significant impact on the field. It was presented Oct. 25 in Vienna, where the conference was held.

The paper, “Attribute-based encryption for fine-grained access control of encrypted data,” which was written by Sahai together with Vipul Goyal, Omkant Pandey and Brent Waters, was presented at the 2006 ACM CCS conference. The conference is the flagship annual meeting of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control. Goyal, Pandey and Waters have all since entered academia. Goyal is at Carnegie Mellon University starting next year; Pandey is at Stony Brook University, and Waters is at the University of Texas at Austin.

The work was the first practical, secure and flexible demonstration of  attribute-based encryption to access sensitive information — essentially, using mathematics to enforce access control. That paper has been cited more than 2,800 times and is currently being developed for commercial and government use by a startup company. That work was also a basis for the Center for Encrypted Functionalities, a research center based at UCLA and funded by the National Science Foundation. Sahai is the center’s director.