Ron Rivest

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Ron Rivest
Ronald L Rivest photo.jpg
Rivest in 2012
Born (1947-05-06) May 6, 1947 (age 74)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materStanford University (PhD)
Yale University
Known forPublic-key[1]
RSA, RC2, RC4, RC5, RC6
MD2, MD4, MD5, MD6, Ring signature
Scientific career
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
ThesisAnalysis of associative retrieval algorithms (1974)
Doctoral advisorRobert W. Floyd
Doctoral students

Ronald Linn Rivest (/rɪˈvɛst/;[5][6] born May 6, 1947) is a cryptographer and an Institute Professor at MIT.[2] 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).[1] 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.


Rivest (right) in March 1999.

Rivest earned a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Yale University in 1969, and a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1974 for research supervised by Robert W. Floyd.[3]

Career and research[edit]

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.[7][8]

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.[9]

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[10] and working with Jean Vuillemin to prove the deterministic form of the Aanderaa–Rosenberg conjecture.[11]

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.[2] His former doctoral students include Avrim Blum,[3] Burt Kaliski,[3] Anna Lysyanskaya,[3] Ron Pinter,[3] Robert Schapire,[3] Alan Sherman,[3] and Mona Singh.[4]


His publications[2] include:

  • Cormen, Thomas H.; Leiserson, Charles; Rivest, Ronald (1990). Introduction to Algorithms (first ed.). MIT Press and McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-262-03141-7.
  • Cormen, Thomas H.; Leiserson, Charles; Rivest, Ronald; Stein, Clifford (2001). Introduction to Algorithms (second ed.). MIT Press and McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-262-53196-2.
  • Cormen, Thomas H.; Leiserson, Charles; Rivest, Ronald; Stein, Clifford (2009). Introduction to Algorithms (third ed.). MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-03384-8.
  • Park, Sunoo; Michael, Specter; Neha, Narula; Rivest, Ronald (November 6, 2020). "Going from Bad to Worse: From Internet Voting to Blockchain Voting" (PDF). Retrieved February 6, 2021.

Honors and awards[edit]

Rivest is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the International Association for Cryptologic Research, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Together with Adi Shamir and Len Adleman, he has been awarded the 2000 IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award and the Secure Computing Lifetime Achievement Award. He also shared with them the Turing Award. Rivest has received an honorary degree (the "laurea honoris causa") from the Sapienza University of Rome.[12] In 2005, he received the MITX Lifetime Achievement Award. Rivest was named in 2007 the Marconi Fellow, and on May 29, 2008 he also gave the Chesley lecture at Carleton College. He was named an Institute Professor at MIT in June 2015.[13]


  1. ^ a b Rivest, R. L.; Shamir, A.; Adleman, L. (1978). "A method for obtaining digital signatures and public-key cryptosystems". Communications of the ACM. 21 (2): 120–126. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/359340.359342. ISSN 0001-0782. S2CID 2873616. closed access
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ron Rivest publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ron Rivest at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ a b Singh, Mona (1996). Learning algorithms with applications to robot navigation and protein folding (PhD thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/40579. OCLC 680493381. Free to read
  5. ^ RSA Conference (25 February 2014). "The Cryptographers' Panel" – via YouTube.
  6. ^ The second syllable is stressed
  7. ^
  8. ^ Press, The MIT. "Introduction to Algorithms, Third Edition | The MIT Press".
  9. ^ "TGDC members". National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2009-05-06. Archived from the original on 2007-06-08.
  10. ^ A procedure for improving the upper bound for the number of n-ominoes, by D. A. Klarner and R. L. Rivest, Canadian Journal of Mathematics, Vol. XXV, No. 3, 1973, pp. 5
  11. ^ A Generalization and Proof of the Aanderaa-Rosenberg Conjecture by Ronald L. Rivest and Jean Vuillemin
  12. ^ Biography. Archived from the original on 2011-12-06.
  13. ^ "Chisholm, Rivest, and Thompson appointed as new Institute Professors". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

External links[edit]