1993-01-19 - Re: Q: What’s happening in cryptography?

Header Data

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: Eric.Fogleman@analog.com (Eric Fogleman)
Message Hash: d8a1de396620efecbb5ccfd1e02a11c6be1f4f674a95caccbadbd1062acfc6fb
Message ID: <9301191933.AA11035@netcom3.netcom.com>
Reply To: <9301191846.AA21685@ack.adstest.analog.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-01-19 19:36:09 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 19 Jan 93 11:36:09 PST

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 93 11:36:09 PST
To: Eric.Fogleman@analog.com (Eric Fogleman)
Subject: Re: Q: What's happening in cryptography?
In-Reply-To: <9301191846.AA21685@ack.adstest.analog.com>
Message-ID: <9301191933.AA11035@netcom3.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Eric Fogleman writes:

> I'm interested in finding out what is currently happening in
> cryptography.  My (basement-level) knowledge of it has come from heavy
> mathematics-oriented texts; these books and articles make it seem as
> though all of the work in cryptography is done by Ph.Ds at
> universities.  I suspect that's not the whole story...

Well, you're on this list now, so you'll hear about some things that
are happening. You should also read sci.crypt for miscellaneous news
and chitchat about crypto technology and policy.

> Questions:
> - What companies, universities are doing work in cryptography?  Are
> there people who get paid to "do cryptography" that don't work for the
> NSA?  If so, where do they work?

RSA Data Security, Cylink, BBN, GE, Trusted Information Systems,
M.I.T., Berkeley, Stanford, Montreal, are just a few of the many
companies and universities doing crypto work. The list is really too
long to go into. Many crypto functions lie outside the domain of the
NSA (though not necessarily by their choice!): computer security, ATM
machines and banking networks, personal indentification systems,
electronic documents, locks and keys, etc.

> - Does cryptography fall under mathematics or computer science at most
> universities?

Some of each, and sometimes under Electrical Engineering. Number
theory, elliptic functions, etc., is generally in math, while
complexity theory, algorithm analysis, etc. is generally under CS.

> - Are the real developments in cryptographic algorithms coming from the
> universities, from companies or from cypherpunks?

Again, a mixture. "Cypherpunks" cannot claim, yet, to have had any
breakthroughs. Perhaps someday.

> - Any suggestions on what to read, who to talk to, what to experiment
> with to move up from basement-level knowledge of cryptography?

1. This list and its FAQ (coming soon).
2. sci.crypt
3. The several articles on crypto that have appeared in IEEE Spectrum,
Communications of the ACM, Scientific American, and so on. Use your
library's resources to find them.
4. More than a dozen good crypto books exist. One recent one,
"Contemporary Cryptology," edited by Gus Simmons, has good review
articles in many of the new areas.

Good luck.

-Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay@netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
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