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Turing Award Winner Whitfield Diffie Offers Course on Cryptography


On October 17th, the course Introduction to Cryptography taught by Professor Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer in the field of information security and winner of the 2015 Turing Award, was launched at the Yuquan Campus of Zhejiang University.

This course will focus on cryptography, providing students with a comprehensive perspective from ancient to modern cryptography and its environment.It not only includes symmetric cryptography (DES, AES) and asymmetric cryptography (RSA, ECC), but also a discussion of the evolutionary history of technology and modes of operation. Professor Diffie said that the main goal of his course is to answer the question “what is cryptography”, rather than to teach a lot technical methods without showing why they are applied.

It has been 25 years since Professor Whitefield Diffie taught a course at Stanford University and Northeastern University. Speaking of his previous teaching experience, the professor mentioned an anecdote from Stanford University. “At that time, it was rumored that the best students in American universities were from China, so I naturally thought that the top students in my class would also be Chinese students. The list of Chinese students was ranked according to their grades. I found that the students that ranked way above average were all female students. Because the scores were anonymous, I believe my observation accurately reflected an interesting phenomenon.”

The professor also mentioned that because he worked on the frontline of scientific research all year round, he was not sure that lecturing was the way he influenced most people. However, many people thanked him because he had inspired them at different occasions and helped them start their projects. In the first year of his studies at MIT, the professor returned to his high school to explain the theoretical model and recursive function theory of the Turing machine. At that time, an audience got interested in the content of his speech and later became a mathematician in this field.

Professor Diffie joined Zhejiang University for full-time position this July and became a professor at Zhejiang University's Cyber Security Center and Zhijiang Lab. The Cryptography course is offered for senior students in computer science and network security, and is also available for as a postgraduate elective. The course has 12 classes total and is taught at Yuquan Campus Building 4 Room 403 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1:30 pm.




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