• Leo Fan

How did you become interested in CS?
I became interested in computer science due to some video games.:D When I was playing the games in my childhood, I always wondered how the characters and the storyline were programmed in the machine. What if I don’t like the storyline, how I should change it. This is the moment (around 12 years old) I became curious about programming and started to learn it.

As a student, did you do undergraduate research?
I was majoring in mathematics during my undergrad. I did some projects, but not really research. One project I did is about plate scan. At that time in the university, when you drive to the campus, you need to take a ticket. There was usually a queue of cars waiting at the gate for the tickets and sometimes caused a traffic jam. With some peers, we designed a system that can automatically recognize the plate, so there is no need to take the tickets when entering the campus. This is the first time we worked out a real-world problem, and I really enjoyed the process.

What are you researching?
My approach combines cryptography and formal methods, aiming to bring provable security to real-world applications. Nowadays, cryptosystems can provide much more functionalities than just encrypting the messages. My research on the design part is to work out various cryptosystems which have these features, based on some mathematical assumptions. For instance, I have constructed primitives that support fine-grained access control and secure evaluation of functions over encrypted data. As the cryptosystems become more complicated, it is harder to rely on humans to verify the reasoning is sound, so we need the help of machines to do the verification of complicated cryptosystems. For this part, I have developed systems that can automatically verify the security proofs of post-quantum cryptographic schemes, as well as well-known multi-party protocols.

What are you excited about in joining Rutgers University?
I am very excited about joining Rutgers. The CS department at Rutgers is very strong in theory and formal verification. I think I will have a lot of opportunities to learn from and work with my colleagues. Besides that, DIMACS is also here. I did a summer internship at Bell Labs and there happened to be a workshop on cryptography at DIMACS. I had a wonderful experience attending the workshop and made some friends there.