School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

Michael O. Rabin
  • Michael O. Rabin
  • Born: 1931
  • Field: Computer science; computer security
  • Focus: Contributed significant research, theory, and development to a wide array of computer science topics.
  • Country: Germany
  • Era: 1970 to 1989

Michael Rabin studies the theory and application of computer algorithms. His special interests are computer security and applications of randomization in computations.

One project involves the use of sophisticated algorithms to protect computer files and a computer's operating system against unauthorized intrusion (i.e., against "hackers"). With a doctoral student, D. Tygar (now at CMU), Professor Rabin invented a new model for computer security and a series of tools which can be incorporated into existing and future operating systems to ensure their protection. The system, called ITOSS (Integrated Toolkit for Operating System Security), has been implemented and is being tested. Work on extensions, including the development of a user interface, is in progress.

The new technologies of parallel computers and distributed systems raise important theoretical and practical problems concerning interprocessor communications and the coordination and synchronization of distributed computing processes. Professor Rabin has developed an innnovative algorithm called IDA (Information Dispersal Algorithm) for the dispersal of information. He is studying the applications of IDA to efficient and fault-tolerant routing of information in parallel computers and general networks, and to the storage of information in arrays of disks (RAIDs).

Professor Rabin also continues to work at creating efficient algorithms for problems in algebra, number theory, data structures, and combinatorics. In addition to their theoretical interest, many of these algorithms, including one recently devised for pattern-matching, have important practical significance. Rabin won the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in 1976.