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Cybersecurity, Nuclear Security, Alan Turing, and Illogical Logic

Cybersecurity, Nuclear Security, Alan Turing, and Illogical Logic, illustration

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates

The 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award recognized work I did 40 years ago, so it is understandable that my interests have changed significantly, with my most recent project being a book, A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet, co-authored with my wife Dorothie. While, at first glance, the book might seem to have nothing in common with my work on cryptography, my Turing Lecture drew a number of parallels I will bring out in what follows.

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The story starts in March 1975, when the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS), now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), proposed a Data Encryption Standard (DES) to protect unclassified but sensitive data. Whitfield Diffie, with whom I shared the Award, and I quickly realized that DES's 56-bit key size was inadequate and needed to be increased.


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