Campus and Community

Técnico alumnus receives honourable mention of the Cor Baayen Young Researcher Award

Paulo Martins was one of the young scientists distinguished by the prestigious European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics.

The Técnico alumnus Paulo Martins received an honourable mention of the Cor Baayen Young Researcher Award, awarded by the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) to a promising young researcher in computer science and applied mathematics. Paulo Martins, who currently works at Samsung R&D Institute United Kingdom, was distinguished among 13 finalists.

“This honourable mention means real recognition of my PhD thesis and it is an encouragement to continue my work”, says Paulo Martins, who also highlighted the importance of the award “in the area of computer science and applied mathematics”. The Técnico alumnus shared “I have a particularly high regard for this competition as its founder stimulated research in the area of cryptography, which is one of my main research interests”.

Nominations for the Cor Baayen Young Researcher Award are made by a staff member of an ERCIM member institute. The Técnico alumnus was nominated by INESC, more exactly by Leonel Sousa, professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (DEEC-IST) and Paulo Martins’ MSc and PhD theses supervisor. “Paulo Martins has an unusual intelligence and perseverance, which were highlighted and enhanced during his adacemic life at Técnico”, says professor Leonel Sousa.

“He finished the integrated MSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013/14 with the highest score. The excellent quality of his research is internationally recognised”, recalls professor Leonel Sousa. “I felt very happy and proud when I heard he had received this honourable mention. I wish him much success in his professional career and I hope one day he return to Técnico”, he adds.

“I have great respect for professor Leonel Sousa, both professionally and personally”, said Paulo Martins. “Professor Leonel Sousa taught me how to do cutting-edge research, so the honourable mention also belongs to him”, adds the alumnus.

Paulo Martins’ PhD thesis – which was taken into account in the evaluation made by the award jury – focuses on the arithmetic aspects of modern cryptography. The security of cryptographic schemes is based on “mathematical problems that are difficult to solve in such a way that hackers would only be able to access our data if they were able to solve problems that are estimated to take hundreds of years to solve”, explains Paulo Martins. “However, this results in arithmetic operations of high computational cost to protect the data that is transmitted between our devices and bank servers”, he adds. In his PhD dissertation, the Técnico alumnus, together with other teams from Sorbonne University, University of Surrey, Samsung, among others, investigated the optimal ways to map these operations in modern computational architectures. “This resulted in the publication of more than 20 articles and 2 patents”, highlights Paulo Martins.

After completing his thesis, Paulo Martins continued to collaborate with INESC-ID, in applied cryptography research projects, which he believes “have contributed significantly to the overall recognition of my research work”. In addition, the alumnus stresses “even if the work I have been developing at Samsung does not result in the publication of articles, it contributes to the effective use of encryption by millions of people”.

At Samsung R&D Institute UK, the Técnico alumnus works in the area of devices certification, such as mobile phones and tablets, so that they can be used at state level, by the police, etc. “It consists of describing the processes that guarantee the safety of the device, and facilitate the testing of its effectiveness by laboratories designated by the countries where these certifications take place”, explains the alumnus. “Certification is important to ensure, in an impartial manner, that the devices meet the safety requirements of different applications”, he adds.

According to Paulo Martins, studying at Técnico “was essential for perform this job function”. “I think it gave me the necessary tools to be able to understand Samsung devices security systems, quickly and effectively, and not only to describe them in an appropriate way in certification area, but also to change them when necessary in order to facilitate the laboratory tests”, he adds.

ERCIM aims to foster collaborative work within the European research community and to increase cooperation with European industry.