Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Ph.D. Stanford
Ronald Linn Rivest is a cryptographer and an Institute Professor at MIT. He is a member of MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and a member of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). His work has spanned the fields of algorithms and combinatorics, cryptography, machine learning, and election integrity.
Rivest is one of the inventors of the RSA algorithm (along with Adi Shamir and Len Adleman). He is the inventor of the symmetric key encryption algorithms RC2, RC4, RC5, and co-inventor of RC6. The “RC” stands for “Rivest Cipher”, or alternatively, “Ron’s Code”. (RC3 was broken at RSA Security during development; similarly, RC1 was never published.) He also authored the MD2, MD4, MD5 and MD6 cryptographic hash functions.
Professor Rivest grew up in Niskayuna, New York, where he attend public schools. He graduated from Niskayuna High School in 1965. He received a B.A. in Mathematics from Yale University in 1969. He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1974; his research supervisor was Professor Robert Floyd. He also worked closely with Professor Donald Knuth, David Klarner, and Vasek Chvatal. He was a post-doc at INRIA in Rocquencourt, France for the academic year 1973-74.
Career and research
At MIT Rivest is a member of the Theory of Computation Group, and founder of MIT CSAIL’s Cryptography and Information Security Group.
He is a co-author of Introduction to Algorithms (also known as CLRS), a standard textbook on algorithms, with Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson and Clifford Stein. Other contributions to the field of algorithms include the paper, “Time Bounds for Selection”, which gives a worst-case linear-time algorithm.
In 2006, he published his invention of the ThreeBallot voting system, a voting system that incorporates the ability for the voter to discern that their vote was counted while still protecting their voter privacy. Most importantly, this system does not rely on cryptography at all. Stating “Our democracy is too important”, he simultaneously placed ThreeBallot in the public domain. He was a member of the Election Assistance Commission’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee, tasked with assisting the EAC in drafting the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.
Rivest frequently collaborates with other researchers in combinatorics, for example working with David A. Klarner to find an upper bound on the number of polyominoes of a given order and working with Jean Vuillemin to prove the deterministic form of the Aanderaa–Rosenberg conjecture.
He was also a founder of RSA Data Security (now merged with Security Dynamics to form RSA Security), Verisign, and of Peppercoin. Rivest has research interests in algorithms, cryptography and voting. His former doctoral students include Avrim Blum, Burt Kaliski, Anna Lysyanskaya, Ron Pinter, Robert Schapire, Alan Sherman, and Mona Singh.
Professor Rivest is a member of the following professional societies:
- AAAS (American Academy of Arts and Sciences), became a member of the AAAS in 1993.
- ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), named a Fellow of the ACM in 1993.
- IACR (International Association for Cryptologic Research), named a Fellow of the IACR in 2004.
- IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
- NAE (National Academy of Engineering), became a member in 1990.
- NAS (National Academy of Science), became a member in 2004.
- BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, 2018
- National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2018
- EVN Award for Election Integrity Research Excellence, 2017
- EPIC Champions of Freedom Award, 2017
- EFF Pioneer Award (as co-author of “Keys Under Doormats” paper), 2016
- 2015 JD Falk Award from the Messaging Malware Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) (as co-author of “Keys Under Doormats” report), 2015
- ETH Zurich ABZ Platinum Gold Medal for Computer Science and Computer Science Education, 2015
- ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) Hall of Fame Award, 2014
- Doctorate of Mathematics (honoris causa), University of Waterloo, 2014
- 2013-14 HKN (Beta Theta Chapter of Eta Kappa Nu) Teaching Award, 2014
- Listed in 35 Best Computer Security Professors of 2013
- National Cyber Security Hall of Fame Award, 2012
- RSA 2011 Conference Lifetime Achievement Award (with A. Shamir and L. Adleman), 2011
- Killian Faculty Achievement Award from MIT, 2010
- NEC C&C Prize (with A. Shamir and L. Adleman), 2009
- An honorary doctorate (the doctorat honoris causa) from the Louvain School of Engineering at the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL), 2008
- Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson Award from MIT EECS Dept., 2008
- Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference “Distinguished Innovator” award, 2007
- MITX Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005
- Marconi Prize, 2005
- the 2002 ACM Turing Award (with A. Shamir and L. Adleman), 2002
- Laurea Honoris Causa, University of Rome La Sapienza, 2002
- IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award (with A. Shamir and L. Adleman), 2000
- Secure Computing Lifetime Achievement Award (with A. Shamir and L. Adleman), 2000
- ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award, 1997
- National Computer Systems Security Award, 1996
- AAAS Fellow (American Association for the Advancement of Science), 1991