Ron Rivest

Ron Rivest
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.

Professional Societies

Professor Rivest is a member of the following professional societies:


Books Used

Professor Rivest has used books in the following categories in courses he has taught:


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