Ronald Rivest, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT(CSAIL) will be awarded the 2009 NEC C&C (computers and communications technologies) Prize Nov. 25, 2009 in Tokyo. Rivest and his colleagues Professors Leonard M. Adleman and Adi Shamir are recognized in this joint award by the NEC Foundation "for inventing a pragmatic algorithm for public-key cryptography in 1977 as researchers at MIT. Using the initials of these three inventors, it was named the RSA algorithm." The citation continues: "Until the invention of public key cryptography, a symmetric (secret) key had to be exchanged in advance between the sender and receiver via a secure communication path. However, with the emergence of the RSA algorithm, a secure form of network communications was created in a practical manner and a secret key exchange was no longer required."
The NEC C&C Foundation is a non-profit organization established in March 1985 "...to foster further growth in the electronics industry by encouraging and supporting research and development activities and pioneering work related to the integration of computers and communications technologies, and ultimately to contribute to the world economy and the enrichment of human life."
Other EECS faculty member recipients of this prize include Tim Berners-Lee (cited by the NEC C&C Prize in 1996 for development of the World Wide Web) and Fernanado Corbato (cited by the NEC C&C Prize in 1998 for his development of CTSS and Multics).