Ronald Rivest named to National Inventors Hall of Fame

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 5:30pm

MIT Institute Professor Ronald Rivest has been named to the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF).

Rivest, a long-time faculty member in EECS, was recognized for co-inventing the RSA public-key cryptosystem with two former MIT colleagues, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman, in the late 1970s. (The technology’s name is drawn from the first letters of the three researchers’ last names.) Today, their technology “is the world's most widely used public-key cryptography method for securing communication on the Internet,” the NIHF noted recently in announcing the honor. “RSA Cryptography is instrumental to the growth of e-commerce and is used in almost all Internet-based transactions to safeguard sensitive data such as credit-card numbers.”

Rivest is a member of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and a co-author of the text Introduction to Algorithms. Named on more than 25 U.S. patents, he has received numerous other awards, including, with Shamir and Adleman, the 2002 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Turing Award. He is also a founder of RSA Data Security (now RSA Security LLC), VeriSign, and Peppercoin.

Shamir and Adleman are also among this year’s 15 NIHF inductees. Shamir is now the Paul and Marlene Borman Professorial Chair of Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute, while Adleman is now the Henry Salvatori Distinguished Chair in Computer Science and a professor of computer science at the University of Southern California.

The 2018 inductees will be honored in May at ceremonies at the NIHF Museum at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, and at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Other inductees range from Stan Honey, whose team invented the Virtual Yellow 1st and Ten Line used in football broadcasting, to Mary Engle Pennington (1872-1952), an inventor of products and methods for safer handling, storage, and transportation of perishable foods.