Monday, February 14, 2011

Math: Public Secrets?

We tend to use a great deal of complex mathematics everyday. Or more correctly we tend to use technology that uses complex mathematics everyday. One such complex area is cryptography. When we log on to our bank account or our online email there's a lot of math going back and forth.

This isn't a post about how cryptography works. It isn't really a post about details of math and mathematical processes. Instead it's a post about unsung and unknown computer scientists who came up with the idea we now call public key cryptography and who haven't, until recently, received any recognition for their work.

The Alternative History of Public-Key Cryptography looks at one of the fundamental algorithms of our time. Whether or not you know it or understand it you use it daily. Like many of the ideas in the world of cryptography it was first conceived of in secret. Later it was rediscovered and brought to the world at large. Now it's time to give credit where credit is due.

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