Ep37 Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman
In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award laureates Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. As joint creators of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, they introduced the world to the transformative idea of public key cryptography, the underpinning of every secure transaction on the internet today. Whitfield has spent a large portion of his career as a security practitioner, including roles at Northern Telecom and Sun Microsystems. He is an elected Foreign Member of the Royal Society and a recipient of numerous other awards and accolades in computing. He's currently a consulting scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Martin is a Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He's also a recipient of the RSA Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other recognitions. Both have received the Marconi Prize and have been inducted into the National Cybersecurity Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Whitfield and Martin share their individual journeys to computer science and cryptography, which were shaped both by personal interests and the geopolitical realities of the time. They also describe how they met and developed a rapport with each other as researchers. They share their “aha moment” in public key cryptography and how the internet catapulted commercial cryptography in the 1990s. They also share their thoughts on computing privacy, national security, and quantum computing and its implications for both Diffie-Hellman and RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) cryptosystems. They touch on end-to-end encryption and the field of technology in the next five years. Along the way, they share colorful details from their early years and share advice for young people aspiring to get into computing.