Ari Trachtenberg was born in Haifa, Israel in 1973. He received his S.B. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 in mathematics with computer science, and his M.S. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 in computer science.

At the University of Illinois, he was a University Fellow and later a Computational Science and Engineering Fellow from 1994 to 1997. In the summer of 1997, he was a research intern at Hewlett Packard Laboratories, Palo Alto, CA and, in the summers of 1998 and 1999, a computer science instructor with the Center for Talented Youth at the Johns Hopkins University. Throughout 1997 and 1998, Ari was a teaching assistant in the computer science department at the University of Illinois, and thereafter he was a research assistant at the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

He was awarded the Mavis Memorial Fund Scholarship from the College of Engineering in 1999, based on academic performance, interest in engineering education, and published research. His research interests include coding theory (trellis and iterative decoding), algorithmic complexity theory, and cryptography.