Monday, June 09, 2003

Howdy from San Diego

This week I'm at the Federated Computing Research Conference (FCRC), a combination of thirty conferences and workshops with 2200 participants. I'm here for the theory conference (STOC) and Electronic Commerce.

Last night, Adleman, Rivest and Shamir gave their Turing award lecture, each giving twenty minutes of an hour long talk. Their basic them on how cryptology has changed in the last 25 years:

  1. Cryptography is now done publicly rather than in secret. This has led to researchers building on each others ideas to create better and better encryption schemes and protocols. But also it has allowed more people to attack these protocols and weed out the bad ones.
  2. Cryptography has moved from art to science. Now we have protocols based on mathematical ideas like number theory instead of just creating seemingly complexity functions.
Adi Shamir made other interesting comments like that perfect cryptography is impossible, though very good cryptography can be had at a modest cost. Most attacks on practical implementations of cryptographic protocols work on the implementation as opposed to the protocol.

The lectures were taped and may show up on-line someday. I'll let you know if I find them there--definitely recommended viewing.

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