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Hellman, Diffie Win Turing Award

Martin Hellman and Witfield Diffie, two computer engineers that you have likely never heard of, won the Turing Award on Tuesday.

Martin Hellman and Witfield Diffie, two computer engineers that you have likely never heard of, won the Turing Award on Tuesday.

Hellman and Diffie are two of the primary inventors of “public-key cryptography,” a technology that allows two computers to securely share information without divulging private keys to each other.

The award is given out by the Association for Computing Machinery each year and comes with a $1 million cash prize. The ACM is a professional organization for advancing technology knowledge.

The encryption method invented by the two, aptly named the “Diffie-Hellman key exchange,” uses the mathematical properties of large numbers to ensure private communications. A set of keys are used to encrypt data before transmission and to decrypt it afterwards. Because the keys are so large, it is incredibly hard to brute force.

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