1994-02-28 - Re: Dorothy Denning

Header Data

From: Phil Karn <karn@qualcomm.com>
To: ao27+@andrew.cmu.edu
Message Hash: d11e89e1776271db5180ab144691970f098c6f8a3b0a39cb971337265f2e3d75
Message ID: <199402282142.NAA00899@servo.qualcomm.com>
Reply To: <ohQYSpy00UhBE4Sn4c@andrew.cmu.edu>
UTC Datetime: 1994-02-28 21:42:48 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 28 Feb 94 13:42:48 PST

Raw message

From: Phil Karn <karn@qualcomm.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 94 13:42:48 PST
To: ao27+@andrew.cmu.edu
Subject: Re: Dorothy Denning
In-Reply-To: <ohQYSpy00UhBE4Sn4c@andrew.cmu.edu>
Message-ID: <199402282142.NAA00899@servo.qualcomm.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

>Anyone know:

>A) Is she an expert in cryptography?

>B) Is she a college graduate?

>C) Was she dropped on her head a lot as a baby?

>D) Has she considered the alternatives that suicide offers?

The "Dr." in "Dr. Dorothy Denning" should answer question B. Note also
that she's the chair of the CS dept at Georgetown; such positions are
not usually given to those without college degrees.

The answer to question A is somewhat more subjective. I know enough
about cryptography to know that I am NOT an expert in
cryptography. And that means I know much more about cryptography than
most people -- if you follow my meaning.  Although Dr. Denning has
written a highly regarded college textbook on cryptography, I have not
seen anything to demonstrate her expertise in designing a cipher and
evaluating it against attack. This is a far more arcane talent, one
shared by a relative handful of people. It should not be confused with
the ability to apply existing ciphers to various problems, a skill
that she clearly possesses, along with many other people.

This is why I questioned her inclusion on the clipper review
committee, as opposed to, say, Ernie Brickell, whose destruction of
the knapsack public key cryptosystem gives him the kind of actual
experience in cryptanalysis that is essential in such a review.

As for your other questions, I suggest that the case against Clipper
is strong enough that we do not need to resort to ad-hominem attacks
against individuals such as Dr. Denning. I agree that she is, at best,
seriously misguided, but it is not that uncommon for otherwise
intelligent people to disagree seriously on politics.  Remember that
her technical credentials, whatever they may be, gives her no special
insight over the rest of us into the purely political issues here.

Don't get mad, get even. Write code!