Siddhesh Joshi

Lance Fortnow

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Nationality  American
Doctoral advisor  Michael Sipser

Name  Lance Fortnow
Fields  Computer science
Notable students  Carsten Lund
Lance Fortnow lancefortnowcomfortnowlancejpg
Institutions  Georgia Tech Northwestern University University of Chicago
Alma mater  Cornell University Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral students  Carsten Lund Dieter van Melkebeek
Notable awards  ACM Fellow, NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, Nerode Prize
Books  The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible
Education  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University
Similar People  Laszlo Babai, Mario Szegedy, Shafi Goldwasser, Sanjeev Arora, Madhu Sudan

Known for  Interactive proof system

Episode 124 lance fortnow

Lance Jeremy Fortnow (born August 15, 1963) is a computer scientist known for major results in computational complexity and interactive proof systems. He currently chairs the School of Computer Science at Georgia Tech.


Lance fortnow on repeated matching pennies with limited randomness


Lance Fortnow received a doctorate in Applied Mathematics from MIT in 1989, supervised by Michael Sipser. Since graduation, he's served on the faculty of the University of Chicago (1989-1999, 2003-2007), Northwestern University (2008-2012), and most recently the Georgia Institute of Technology (2012–present) as chair of the School of Computer Science.

Fortnow was the founding editor-in-chief of the journal ACM Transactions on Computation Theory. He was the chair of ACM SIGACT and succeeded by Paul Beame. He was the chair of the IEEE Conference on Computational Complexity from 2000 to 2006. In 2003, Fortnow began one of the first blogs devoted to theoretical computer science and has written for it since then; since 2007 he has had a co-blogger, William Gasarch. In September 2009, Fortnow brought mainstream attention to complexity theory when he published an article surveying the progress made in the P versus NP problem in the Communications of the Association of Computing Machinery.


In his many publications, Fortnow has contributed important results to the field of computational complexity. While still a graduate student at MIT, Fortnow showed that there are no perfect zero-knowledge protocols for NP-complete languages unless the polynomial hierarchy collapses. With Michael Sipser, he also demonstrated that relative to a specific oracle there exists a language in co-NP that does not have an interactive protocol.

In November 1989, Fortnow received an email from Noam Nisan showing that co-NP had multiple prover interactive proofs (MIP). With Carsten Lund and Howard Karloff, he used this result to develop an algebraic technique for the construction of interactive proof systems and prove that every language in the polynomial-time hierarchy has an interactive proof system. Their work was hardly two weeks old when Adi Shamir employed it to prove that IP=PSPACE. Quickly following up on this (January 17, 1990 less than two months after receiving Nisan's email) Fortnow, along with László Babai and Carsten Lund, proved that MIP=NEXP. These algebraic techniques were expanded further by Fortnow, Babai, Leonid Levin, and Mario Szegedy when they presented a new generic mechanism for checking computations.

Since this time Fortnow has continued to publish on a variety of topics in the field of computational complexity including derandomization, sparse languages, and oracle machines. Fortnow has also published on quantum computing, game theory, genome sequencing, and economics.

Lance Fortnow's work in economics includes work in game theory, optimal strategies, and prediction. With Duke Whang, Fortnow has examined the classic game theory problem of the prisoner's dilemma, extending the problem so that the dilemma is posed sequentially an infinite number of times. They investigated what strategies the players should take given the constraints that they draw their strategies from computationally bounded sets and introduce “grace periods” to prevent the dominance of vengeful strategies. Fortnow also examined the logarithmic market scoring rule (LMSR) with market makers. He helped to show that LMSR pricing is #P-hard and propose an approximation technique for pricing permutation markets. He has also contributed to an examination the behavior of informed traders working with LMSR market makers.

Awards and honors

  • 2007 ACM Fellow
  • NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow from 1992–1998
  • Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands in 1996 and 1997
  • 2014 Nerode Prize
  • References

    Lance Fortnow Wikipedia

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