Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman are two encryption pioneers. In 1976 they wrote a paper called “New Directions in Cryptography,” which contained concepts that were very important to the creation of the internet (contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t created by Al Gore.) They basically are the reason that we are able to have the “s” at the end of http in website addresses. This “s” basically stands for security, and allows us to have secure websites so we can buy things and access financial information securely online, which makes the internet what it is today. Without these important developments, the internet would not be as convenient as it is today, and would likely look a lot different. If you had asked people before their paper if something like the internet today could be achieved, they probably would have looked at you like you were crazy.
Recently, Diffie and Hellman were given the AM Turing Award, which is often considered to be like the Nobel Prize of computer sciences, something well deserved for this pair. There is a lot of honor that comes with winning this award, but there are also some other bonuses – namely the cash prize of $1,000,000, thanks in part to a donation from Google. Hellman expressed that he plans to use his winnings towards his charitable efforts for peace and against nuclear weapons, including a book he is writing with his wife. Diffie plans to use his winnings to create a comprehensive history of cryptography because many of the pioneers in this field are aging, and he wants to create this before they pass away.
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