Martin Hellman

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Martin Hellman

Martin Edward Hellman (born October 2, 1945 in New York City ) is an American cryptologist , known as one of the developers of public key cryptography .

life and work

Hellman studied electrical engineering at New York University (bachelor's degree in 1966) and Stanford University (master's degree in 1967), where he received his doctorate in 1969. As a post-doc he was at IBM in 1968/69 at their IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights. From 1969 to 1971 he was assistant professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was from 1971 first assistant professor and later professor at Stanford, where he retired in 1996. He is currently Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.

He became famous for his collaboration with Whitfield Diffie and his student Ralph Merkle on the invention of the Diffie-Hellman algorithm , the first published method for key exchange via insecure channels. Working with cryptography was unusual back then. In his own words, the inspiration for him came from the work of Claude Shannon in the 1940s, some of which was published (it had emerged from secret work in cryptography), the book Code Breakers by David Kahn published in 1967 and the encounter with Horst Feistel , who at the end of the 1960s at IBM was to apply the expertise acquired in secret government research for commercial encryption methods, from which the DES emerged in the 1970s (with Diffie, Hellman also participated in the cryptanalysis of the DES in the 1970s). The publication of the findings on public key cryptography caused conflicts with the US government at the time, which saw it as a threat to its own cryptographic success.

In the 1980s he was active in the “Beyond War Foundation”. He initiated a program Defusing the nuclear threat after he carried out an assessment of the current threat from nuclear weapons, which in his eyes was alarmingly high, especially due to the proliferation of nuclear technologies.

In 1996 he received the Paris Kanellakis Prize . Hellman and Diffie received the 2015 Turing Award .

See also


  • Editor with Anatoli Gromyko Breakthrough- emerging new thinking , 1987 (Russian and English)
  • Diffie, Hellman Privacy and Authentification - an introduction to cryptography , Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 67, 1979, No. 3, pp. 397-427
  • The mathematics of public key cryptography, Scientific American, August 1979


Web links

Commons : Martin Hellman  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Diffie, Hellman: New Directions in Cryptography , IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Vol. 22, No. 6, November 1976, pp. 644-654.
  2. ^ Diffie, Hellman: Exhaustive cryptanalysis of the NBS Data Encryption Standard , Computer, Vol. 10, June 1977, p. 74.
  3. Hellman: DES will be totally insecure in 10 years , IEEE Spectrum, Vol. 16, 1979, pp. 32-39.
  4. initiative Hellman , with his work Risk analysis of nuclear deterrence of 2008.
  5. Detlef Borchers: Pioneers of cryptography: Turing Award for Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. In: heise online. March 2, 2016, accessed March 3, 2016 .