CMSC456 Cryptology, Fall 2003

Instructor: Aravind Srinivasan
Class Venue and Time: CSI 1121, TuTh 2 - 3:15 PM

Outline | Final Exam | Announcements | General Information | Staff | Course Material

Course Outline

This course serves as the introduction to cryptography for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. The focus is on definitions, theoretical foundations, and rigorous proofs of security. This course is cross-listed with the mathematics department, so it will have a significant mathematical component. This course complements Computer and Network Security (CMSC 414) which focuses more on "high-level" issues; in this class, we will actually look "under the hood" and attempt to understand various cryptographic protocols and algorithms. This course and CMSC 414 may be taken in either order.

We will begin with a brief discussion of "classical" cryptography and its limitations. Following this, we will define a notion of "perfect" security and see what can and cannot be achieved in this sense. This will lead us naturally to the modern, complexity-theoretic approach to cryptography in which security is based on the assumed computational hardness of various problems. In this vein, we will study pseudo-randomness, private-key (i.e., shared key) encryption and message authentication, block ciphers, authentication, public-key encryption, and digital signatures. Advanced topics will be covered as time permits.

No advanced mathematics background is assumed, but students are expected to possess "mathematical maturity" since many of the concepts will be abstract and rigorous proofs will be given occasionally throughout the semester. Discrete mathematics (probability theory, modular arithmetic) and complexity theory are also helpful, but the necessary prerequisites will be discussed in class.

The textbook for the course is "Cryptography: Theory and Practice, 2nd edition" by Stinson. The second edition is very different from the first edition; please do not use the older version of the book. Additional readings will be listed on the course homepage.

Important Information Regarding the Final Exam

The final exam for CMSC 456 is scheduled by the University to be on Thursday December 18th from 10:30-12:30. However, due to a work-related conflict of the professor, it is requested that the final exam be on Thursday December 11th, either from 2-4 PM (the regularly scheduled class is from 2-3:15pm) or else from 6-8 PM. It is requested that students confirm, via an email to the professor, whether or not they have any objections to this; additionally, if there are questions/concerns, they may be sent to the professor and/or also be addressed to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator (James Maybury, Note added on Oct 2, 2003: The final exam times are confirmed now, to be on Dec 11th and Dec 12th; please see announcement a few lines below. Note added on Oct 19, 2003: The final exam times and venues are confirmed now, to be on Dec 11th and Dec 12th; please see announcement dated Oct 19, a few lines below.