Hello -

I'm writing to encourage students to sign up for my course this Fall. 

What I will cover:  The course will provide an introduction to modern cryptography.  I will cover many practical topics, such as how to correctly use block ciphers and hash functions for the most common tasks: encryption and digital signatures.  In addition, modern cryptography allows us to do so much more!  In the second part of the course, I intend to cover new topics in the field, such as block chains, data sanitization through differential privacy, and searching encrypted databases. 

Why you should care: Cryptography used to be about sending hidden messages; today it is about protecting our data.  With more and more of our data at stake, it is important to understand what can be done to protect it, and to recognize the specifics of the trade-off between securing our data and utilizing it.  Cryptography is something we already use all the time, but as the ways in which we use it - and fail to use it - rapidly increase, it becomes more important that we don't take it for granted.  Additionally, the intersection of cryptography with other fields is growing rapidly.  In any computational task that deals with user data, you might ask whether your data could be made more secure.

Course Details:  I am interested in understanding security from a provable stand-point, which means that we will focus on correctly defining security for specific tasks, and proving that a given protocol meets the definitions.   Therefore, there won't be any programming assignments, but rather 5-6 problem sets in which students demonstrate an understanding of what it means to prove that a construction is (or isn't) secure under certain stated assumptions about the adversary.  There is no formal prerequisite, and I will teach everything that is needed, but a good course to have taken prior to this one is CS600.  Familiarity with basic probability theory and an understanding of how to formally prove that one computational problem reduces to another will be very helpful.  The textbook for this course is this one: http://magik.gmu.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=3695178

Please let me know if you have questions, and please enroll!

Dov Gordon