Graduate Cryptography Course at WPI

Robert Hettinga rah at
Mon Aug 25 17:21:52 PDT 1997

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Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 17:21:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: Christof Paar <christof at ece.WPI.EDU>
To: DCSB <dcsb at>
cc: Lisa Jernberg <jernberg at>
Subject: Graduate Cryptography Course at WPI
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Reply-To: Christof Paar <christof at ece.WPI.EDU>

This is an announcement for my graduate course in cryptography.  Detailed
information is included below. Please note that (i) the course is offered
on Tuesday nights this semester and (ii) that it is cross-listed as CS 578.

The course has been taught to almost 200 people in industry and graduate
students over the last few years. Industry participants include engineers
from GTE Government Systems, RSA, Philips Research, DEC, HP, Bay Networks,
and others.

For questions about registrations, please contact Lisa Jernberg at
jernberg at

Please feel free to contact me if there are any further questions about
the class.

Best regards,

Christof Paar

Christof Paar         
Assistant Professor             email:  christof at
Cryptography Group              phone:  (508) 831 5061
ECE Department, WPI             fax:    (508) 831 5491
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609, USA


                    Worcester Polytechnic Institute


               Fall '97, Tuesday, 5:30-8:30 pm, AK 233

                    Starting date: September 9, 1997


It is well known that we are in the midst of a shift towards an information
society. The upcoming generation of digital information systems will provide
services such as:

  -  wireless LAN and WAN computer networks

  -  multi-media services (e.g., high quality video-on-demand)

  -  smart cards (e.g., for network identification of electronic purse)

  -  electronic banking/digital commerce

These and other new information-based applications will have far reaching
consequences. As this happens, security aspects of communication systems are
of growing commercial and public interest. Unfortunately, these aspects have
been widely underestimated or ignored in the past. Today, however, there is
high demand for expertise and high quality products in the field of
information security and cryptography.

WPI's graduate course EE 578/CS 578 provides a solid and broad foundation in
the area of cryptography and data security. After taking the course students
should have an overview of state-of-the-art cryptography. In industry, they
should be able to carefully choose and design a security scheme for a given
application. The course also serves as an introduction for students who are
interested in pursuing research in cryptography. There are several
opportunities for Master's and PhD theses in the field of cryptography.

                     COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course gives a comprehensive introduction into the field of
cryptography and data security. We begin with the introduction of the
concepts of data security. Different attacks on cryptographic systems are
classified. Some pseudo-random generators are introduced. The concepts of
public and private key cryptography is developed. As important
representatives for secret key schemes, DES, IDEA, and other private key
algorithms are described. The public key schemes RSA, ElGamal, and elliptic
curve crypto systems are developed. As important tools for authentication
and integrity, digital signatures and hash functions are introduced.
Advanced protocols for key distribution in networks are developed.
Identification schemes are treated as advanced topics.  Some mathematical
algorithms for attacking cryptographic schemes are discussed. Application
examples will include a protocol for security in a LAN and identification
with smart cards. Special consideration will be given to schemes which are
relevant for network environments.  For all schemes, implementation aspects
and up-to-date security estimations will be discussed.


Working knowledge of ``C''. An interest in discrete mathematics and
algorithms is highly desirable.


D.R. Stinson, Cryptography: Theory and Practice. CRC Press, 1995

B.  Schneier, Applied Cryptography. 2nd edition, Wiley & Sons, 1996
              (recommended for additional reading)

                     SYLLABUS EE 578/CS 578

An important part of the course is an independent project. The project topic
can freely be chosen by the student. Possible topics include (but are not
limited to) implementation of a real-size cryptographic algorithm or
protocol, a literature study on new cryptographic schemes or on legal
aspects of cryptography, or implementation of an algorithm for attacking a
cryptographic scheme.

Introduction: Principals of cryptography. Classical algorithms.
Attacks on cryptographic systems.

Stream ciphers and pseudo-random generators.. Some information theoretical
results on cryptography.

Private key cryptography: The Data Encryption Standard DES. Brief history,
function and performance.

Private key cryptography: Recent results on successful attacks on DES.
Operation modes of symmetric ciphers. IDEA and other alternatives to

Public key cryptography: Introduction. Some Number Theory and Algebra.

Public key cryptography: RSA. Function and security. Recent results on
successful attacks on RSA.

Midterm exam.

Public key cryptography: The discrete logarithm problem. ElGamal crypto
system. Function and security. Security estimations.

Public key cryptography: Elliptic curve systems. Mathematical background,
function and security.

WEEK 10:
Digital Signatures: The ElGamal signature scheme. Message Authentication
Codes (MAC).

WEEK 11:
Hash functions: Principals. Block cipher based hash functions.
Protocols: Attacks against protocols, protocols for privacy,
authentication, and integrity.

WEEK 12:
Key distribution in networks: Private key approaches, certificates, and
authenticated key agreement.

WEEK 13:
Identification schemes: Challenge-and-response protocols. The Schnorr
identification scheme for smart cards.

WEEK 14:
Final exam.

Christof Paar              
Assistant Professor                  email:  christof at
ECE Department                       phone:  (508) 831 5061
Worcester Polytechnic Institute      fax:    (508) 831 5491
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609, USA

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Robert Hettinga (rah at, Philodox
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
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