EECS Department Head Anantha Chandrakasan announced today the appointment of Ron Rivest as the new holder of the Vannevar Bush Professorship. The Bush Chair is an Institute-wide professorship established in 1982 as a memorial to one of the outstanding scientists and engineers of the twentieth century.
As one of the founding fathers of modern cryptography, Ron Rivest worked with colleagues Len Adleman and Adi Shamir to create the public key system, known worldwide as the RSA system – one which has resisted sophisticated attack (in the more than four decades since its invention) and which is based on the first known algorithm that supports both digital signing (authenticating the sender) and encryption. Besides playing a critical role in the success of today’s Internet commerce, the RSA code on which the system is based represents an example of elegant and abstract theory that has ultimately had immense practical impact.
Prof. Rivest is also a dedicated teacher, mentor and educator. Professors Rivest and Leiserson co-developed 6.046, Introduction to Algorithms – a course which Rivest has taught over a dozen times. Professor Rivest co-authored the text (by the same name) with colleagues Professors Cormen, Leiserson and Stein. This text also dubbed the “CLRS book” has been listed as the best selling textbook in all of Computer Science – over 500,000 copies of this text have been sold. Generations of computer programmers, world-wide, have learned their craft from the CLRS book, considered the standard reference on the subject.
Prof. Rivest, formerly the Viterbi Professor of Computer Science in the EECS Department at MIT, is a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), a member of CSAIL’s Theory of Computation Group and is a leader of the CSAIL Cryptography and Information Security Group. Prof. Rivest has made significant contributions in many other areas of computer science including computer-aided design of integrated circuits, data structures, computer algorithms and systems for electronic voting. In the past he has also worked extensively in the area of machine learning.
Prof. Rivest has served as a Director of the International Association for Cryptologic Research, the organizing body for the Eurocrypt and Crypto conferences, and as a Director of the Financial Cryptography Association. He is a founder of RSA Data Security, which was bought by Security Dynamics. The combined company was renamed to RSA Security and later purchased by EMC. He is also co-founder of Verisign and of Peppercoin.
As a member of the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project, Prof. Rivest served on the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), advisory to the Election Assistance Commission. In this role, he developed recommendations for voting system certification standards. He was chair of the TGDC’s Computer Security and Transparence Subcommittee and serves on the Advisory Board of the Verified Voting Foundation. He was a member of the ‘Scantegrity’ team developing and testing voting systems that are verifiable “end-to-end.”