On 28 November Yfke Dulek (University of Amsterdam) will receive the Ngi-NGN master thesis Information prize for Informatics & Computer Science (5000 euro) at the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen in Haarlem. Her thesis Quantum homomorphic encryption for polynomial-sized circuits is about a special encryption method she developed during her MSc project With this method, third parties can perform computations on encrypted quantum data without decoding.
Future quantum computers are based on the laws of quantum mechanics, and will be able to execute certain computations much faster than classical computers. These computers will be so radically different, that new hardware and software has to be developed. Classical computers are based on bits which can be 0 or 1, but quantum computers are based on qubits, which can be 0 and 1 at the same time Yfke’s research focused on the encryption of these qubits. Existing encryption methods for classical computers are not suited to encrypt data on quantum computers. The encryption method developed by Yfke allows computations on encrypted data without having to expose the data itself. This is useful when computations are being made on sensitive data by external parties, for instance on super computers or in the cloud. In 2009 it was discovered that such ‘homomorphic’ encryption methods are possible for classical bits. Since then attempts have been made to design similar encryption methods for qubits, but none of these were successful. In her thesis, Yfke solved this problem and proved the existence of homomorphic encryption methods for quantum data. She performed this research together with Dr. Christian Schaffner en Dr. Florian Speelman.
The jury is impressed by her research because she achieved multiple results of great importance in the area of quantum cryptography, solving questions raised by prominent cryptographers in recent scientific publications. Yfke Dulek continues her research in quantum cryptography as a PhD in the Algorithms & Complexity group of CWI.