Maynard Marshall Ball has been selected to receive a two-year IBM PhD Fellowship for the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 academic years. Highly competitive (only 50 are awarded worldwide each year), IBM PhD fellowships recognize and support PhD students researching problems important to IBM and fundamental to innovation. Special attention this year was paid to AI, security, blockchain, and quantum computing.
A third-year PhD student, Ball is particularly interested in the foundations of cryptography and complexity, two fields deeply intertwined and whose connections Ball seeks to further understand. According to his advisor Tal Malkin, Ball has made fundamental scientific contributions in three separate areas:
Fine-grained cryptography, where Ball has modeled moderately-hard cryptographic systems and crafted provably-secure proofs-of-work, with applications to blockchain technologies and spam detection.
Non-malleable codes, where Ball has designed codes with new unconditional security guarantees to protect against tampering attacks.
Topology-hiding computation, where Ball has helped maintain network privacy by constructing efficient secure protocols for peer-to-peer networks.
As well as recognizing research excellence, IBM PhD Fellowship are awarded based on a student’s publication history. Papers coauthored by Ball have been published in top cryptography, security, and theory conferences (including Eurocrypt 2016, ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (2016), and ACM Symposium on the Theory of Computing (2017). Two more of his papers will be presented at next month’s Eurocrypt 2018 conference.
IBM PhD fellowships, which are for two years, come with a stipend for living, travel, and conference expenses (in the US, the stipend amounts to $35,000 each academic year) as well as one-year education allowance. Fellows are matched with an IBM Mentor according to their disciplines and technical interests, and they are encouraged to participate in an onsite internship.
“I am honored and thrilled to be able to continue working on the foundations of cryptography and complexity. I am grateful to my advisor and the many other incredibly talented individuals with whom I have collaborated with thus far. I look forward to working with the outstanding cryptography group at IBM,” says Ball.