Sanjam Garg wins Bakar Fellows Spark Award

Garg will use the discretionary research support to develop a faster zkSNARK system.

Yasmin Tinwala

Sanjam Garg, an IIT-Delhi alumnus, and an associate professor in the Computer Science division at the University of California, Berkeley, was selected as one of the eleven recipients of the Bakar Fellows Spark Award, the university said in a  news release.

Garg is taking on a challenge in cryptography that he hopes will produce the next-generation zkSNARKs which are often used in cryptocurrency transactions. Cryptography is a process of hiding or coding information so that only the intended recipient of the message can read it. zkSNARK stands for Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge. It allows one party to prove to another that a statement is true without revealing any information beyond the validity of the statement itself.

In cryptocurrency, zkSNARKs help transactions to be private and fully concealed on the cryptographic ledger while still being validated using the network’s agreement rules, as per a report. Today zkSNARKs are slow and use lots of computer memory and Garg sees lots of room for improvement, said the news release.

The award is designed to accelerate Berkeley faculty-led research to tangible, positive societal impact through commercialization. Bakar faculty fellows are awarded discretionary research support to fulfil proposed milestones and further their innovative research concepts closer to commercialization.

Aside from the Spark Awards, Garg is also the recipient of various honours such as the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, the Sloan Research Fellowship, and the IIT Delhi Graduates of the Last Decade Award. His research has been recognized with best paper awards at EUROCRYPT 2013, CRYPTO 2017, and EUROCRYPT 2018.


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