Sanjam Garg, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi has created tools that enable the first secure solution to the problem of making computer programme code 'unintelligible' while preserving its functionality.
This problem, known as software obfuscation, conceals the programme's purpose or its logic in order to prevent tampering, deter reverse engineering, or as a challenge to readers of the source code.
Garg's approach makes it impossible to reverse-engineer the obfuscated software without solving mathematical problems that could take hundreds of years to work out on today's computers.
Garg's work has won him the 2013 Doctoral Dissertation Award presented by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a US-based international learned society for computing.
Garg, a Josef Raviv Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at IBM TJ Watson Research Center, completed his dissertation at the University of California, Los Angeles, which nominated him.
Garg will receive the Doctoral Dissertation Award and its USD 20,000 prize in San Francisco next month.
In his dissertation 'Candidate Multilinear Maps', Garg described new mathematical tools that serve as key ingredients for transforming a programme into a 'jigsaw puzzle' of encrypted pieces.
Corresponding to each input is a unique set of puzzle pieces that, when assembled, reveal the output of the programme.
Security of the obfuscated programme hinges on the fact that illegitimate combinations of the puzzle pieces do not reveal anything.