Every year, Google Research recognizes outstanding graduate students who are doing exceptional research in the fields of computer science and related disciplines. This year, computer science Ph.D. student Aayush Jain was awarded with the Google Ph.D. Fellowship for Privacy and Security, and was the only student chosen to receive the fellowship for this field in North America this year. This closely follows Muhammad Gulzar’s acceptance of the 2017 Google Ph.D. Fellowship, making this the second year in a row that a UCLA computer science Ph.D. student has been awarded a Google Ph.D. Fellowship.

Jain’s interest in computer science stemmed from his passion for mathematics as an undergraduate. Given the many applications of mathematics towards computer science, this interest ultimately led to Jain’s focus on cryptography and its applications.

Jain completed his undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, where he received his B.Tech in electrical engineering and M.Tech in information technology. Now, he is pursuing his Ph.D. in computer science and is being advised by computer science professor Amit Sahai. Prior to coming to UCLA, Jain worked alongside Professor Arjen Lenstra researching and implementing efficient factoring algorithms, and went on to spend 2 years at Microsoft Research in India working on related problems.

Currently, Jain mainly works on theoretical problems in cryptography, such as program obfuscation and threshold cryptosystems. Program obfuscation, as the name suggests, is the act of deliberately creating source or machine code which is difficult to understand as a method of concealing its purpose or logic, which helps prevent and deter tampering, reverse engineering, and in general offering a more secure and harder-to-hack program. Threshold cryptosystems are cryptosystems in which several parties must cooperate in order to decrypt an encrypted message. By distributing trust over multiple authorities, the system can still guarantee meaningful notions of security in the event that certain authorities become compromised. Essentially, Jain is working on relatively new and difficult problems within the realm of cryptography, and in the long run hopes his work will allow programmers to make stronger guarantees on the security of their programs.

The Google Ph.D. Fellowship is yet another addition to Jain’s professional research achievements. Read more about Jain and his research interests here.