Date Posted: 1/22/2024

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has selected Eshan Chattopadhyay, assistant professor of computer science in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, as the 2024 co-recipient of the Michael and Sheila Held Prize, along with collaborator David Zuckerman, professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, for their novel work on randomized algorithms.

Given annually since 2018, the Held Prize honors "outstanding, innovative, creative, and influential research in the areas of combinatorial and discrete optimization, or related parts of computer science." The pair will receive the award, along with a $100,000 prize, at the NAS 161st Annual Meeting on April 28. A color photo of a man working on a dry-erase board

"I am deeply honored to receive this award and to have my work with David on randomness extractors recognized by the larger scientific community," Chattopadhyay said.

NAS selected Chattopadhyay and Zuckerman in recognition of their highly innovative approach to solving an enduring problem in computational complexity theory. They developed an algorithm that joins two independent, low-quality random sources to make one high-quality random source. Earlier efforts required one of the two input sources to be at least moderately high-quality. Their algorithm, called a two-source extractor, also offers a significant advance on an important mathematical problem in Ramsey Theory, an area of study that tackles questions of how large a structure must be to guarantee the existence of a substructure within it, which has a given property.  

A member of the Cornell Bowers CIS faculty since 2018, Chattopadhyay conducts research in the field of theoretical computer science, with specific interests in computational complexity theory and the role of randomness in computation.

In addition to the current honor, Chattopadhyay received a Sloan Research Fellowship in 2023, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 2021 and an NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering Research Initiation Initiative award in 2019. 

Chattopadhyay conducted postdoctoral work at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 and his B.Tech at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur in 2011, both in computer science.

Patricia Waldron is a writer for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science