[ExI] Public-key encryption honored

David Lubkin lubkin at unreasonable.com
Wed Mar 2 22:57:20 UTC 2016

Cryptography Pioneers Win Turing Award

Cryptography Pioneers Receive 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award

Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman won the 2015 
Turing Award. The Turing, often called the Nobel 
Prize of Computer Science, is a big deal. The 
honorees are the best we have. Folks like John 
McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Vint Cerf, Donald Knuth, 
and Richard Hamming. And the prize is now a million dollars.

Without doubt, Diffie and Hellman deserve this 
recognition. Public-key encryption is a big deal 
and we'll be finding new uses for it for decades. 
But there are two curiosities about the awarding.

First, it was already given in 2002 to Rivest, 
Shamir, and Adleman for work that relied on 
Diffie and Hellman. Logically, RSA should have gotten it after Diffie-Hellman.

Second, in many minds they're a trio—Diffie, 
Hellman, and extropian Ralph Merkle. The Computer 
History Museum named the three of them together 
as fellows, for their work with each other. 
Rudely, the photo that the New York Times used 
was actually of the three of them; they cropped Ralph out.

In the earlier awarding of the Kanellakis Theory 
and Practice Award in 1996, all six public-key pioneers were named.


It doesn't make up for losing the prestige and a 
third of a million dollars, but I say ye Ralph Merkle!

-- David.

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