Harvard has had a long history of groundbreaking research in the theory of computation (ToC, also known as Theoretical Computer Science). This field addresses the mathematical laws that govern efficient computation, whether by man-made devices or natural phenomena. Today ToC had vastly expanded to touch many problems not just in computer science and engineering, but also pure and applied mathematics, as well as the natural, life and social sciences. Members of the ToC group at Harvard are pursuing both the fundamental questions of computation, as well as its applications to many areas, and are closely collaborating with colleagues across all of these fields.

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Our Research Areas

Design and Analysis of Algorithms

Barak, Mitzenmacher, Nelson, Rabin, Singer, Valiant

Computational Complexity

Barak, Nelson, Sudan, Vadhan, Valiant

Logic in Computer Science


Error-Correcting Codes

Elkies, Mitzenmacher, Sudan, Vadhan


Barak, Rabin, Vadhan

Learning Theory & Cognitive Computation


Randomness in Computation

Barak, Mitzenmacher, Nelson, Rabin, Sudan, Vadhan

Computational Neuroscience


Computational Algebra & Number Theory

Elkies, Rabin, Sudan, Valiant

Parallel Computation

Rabin, Valiant

Streaming Algorithms

Mitzenmacher, Nelson

Computational Mechanism Design & Game Theory

Chen, Singer, Parkes

Data Privacy

Chen, Vadhan

Graphics and Discrete Geometry


Approximability of Optimization Problems

Barak, Singer, Sudan