In 2012, visionary Italian computer scientist Silvio Micali won the Turing Award, which is referred to as “the Nobel Prize of Computing." Micali, who has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1983, is also the founder of Algorand, one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies in the market. Throughout his career, his unorthodox approaches have fundamentally changed our understanding of notions such as randomness, secrets, proof, knowledge, and collusion. In particular, Micali is widely acknowledged as the creator of the algorithmic theory of pseudorandomness, and his invention of zero-knowledge and interactive proofs was recognized by the 1993 Gödel Prize—the highest award in theoretical computer science. Complimenting his academic work, Micali is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Accademia dei Lincei.
In 1979, Micali arrived at UC Berkeley, which at the time was a hotbed for theoretical computer scientists. This marked a major turning point in the life of Micali, who had just found interest in the burgeoning field of computer science during his very last year of college in Rome, Italy. However, the transition was not particularly easy, as he missed the first six months of graduate school because he needed to improve his English comprehension scores. Micali's struggles continued on campus, and after his first year he nearly quit. He was then convinced to consult with Manuel Blum, a legendary faculty member who introduced Micali to the world of cartography. It was kismet. The pair would famously go on to make some of the most exciting discoveries in cryptography. In 1982, Micali earned a PhD in computer science with a seminal dissertation titled "Randomness Versus Hardness."
As well-respected as his name is in textbooks, Micali's speaking talents are no less legendary. Since graduating, he remains a vital part of the Berkeley community, and frequently returns for university-sponsored events. His Berkeley lectures are consistently entertaining and illuminating, including in 2019 when the pioneering cryptographer was seen back on campus for his lecture "Theoretically Speaking — Algorand's Forthcoming Blockchain Technology." Likewise, in 2018, Micali addressed an auditorium full of Berkeley students and faculty members on how Theory of Computation has revolutionized numerous unexpected applications in the new digital world, making it easier to verify proofs and limit online security risks. In recognition of his many academic and professional contributions, Berkeley University leaders awarded Micali with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.