# Adi Shamir

Wolf Prize Laureate in Mathematics 2024

**Adi Shamir**

#### Affiliation at the time of the award:

**The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel**

#### Award citation:

**“for his fundamental contributions to Mathematical Cryptography”.**

#### Prize share:

**Adi Shamir**

**Noga Alon**

**“for their pioneering contributions to mathematical cryptography, combinatorics, and the theory of computer science”.**

Adi Shamir (born in Israel in 1952), a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science, is one of the most senior computer scientists globally. He is a top expert in the fields of information encryption and decryption. Shamir was among the developers of the RSA method that changed the face of computer communication in the world and was a fundamental pillar in electronic commerce and information security.

From a young age, Shamir showed an interest in science and participated in youth academic programs and science summer camps at the Weizmann Institute of Science. After graduating with high honors with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Tel Aviv University (1973), Shamir furthered his studies at the Weizmann Institute, focusing on computer science and earning an MSc in 1975, followed by a PhD in 1977. In his doctoral thesis, he examined the properties of certain mathematical functions that are relevant to the semantics of programming languages. Following the completion of his doctoral studies, he pursued a short-term postdoctoral position at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, and continued his academic journey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, where he began to study the theory of encryption and the theory of decoding.

In traditional encryption, a key is crucial for both message encryption and decryption, posing a security challenge in key distribution. Seeking a solution, in 1977, MIT researchers Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adelman devised a groundbreaking public-key encryption method known as RSA (initials of Rivest, Shamir, and Adelman – its three developers). This method utilized a one-way mathematical function based on the multiplication of prime numbers, ensuring that the original solution couldn’t be retrieved. RSA employs two distinct but mathematically linked keys: a public key for encryption and a private key for decryption, eliminating the need for key distribution. Recognized globally, RSA Cryptography is a cornerstone in securing online communication, e-commerce, and confidential data in transactions. Its significance extends beyond practical use, garnering attention from mathematicians, companies, governments, and intelligence agencies. The RSA method has become a fundamental and nearly exclusive element in safeguarding computer information and electronic commerce.

Among his numerous additional contributions to information security, Shamir introduced the groundbreaking secret-sharing method. This technique transforms secrets into sets of random numbers, requiring a specific combination to reconstruct the original secret, forming the basis for secure computations. Collaborating with peers, he advanced identification and signature methods through zero-knowledge proofs and devised the ring signature for group-based encryption. Shamir’s ingenuity extended to TV broadcast encryption, allowing encrypted transmissions exclusively for paying recipients. In recent years, his research delved into T-functions, intricate mathematical tools for information encryption. Shamir’s impact also extends to exposing vulnerabilities in encryption systems, developing general mathematical methods for attacks, and pioneering Side Channel Attacks on hardware and software implementations. Beyond information security, his contributions resonate in core computer science, notably shaping the theory of computational complexity.

**Adi Shamir is awarded the Wolf Prize for being a truly exceptional scientist and has been the leading force in transforming cryptography into a scientific discipline that is heavily based on Mathematics. His foundational discoveries combine mathematical ingenuity with a range of analytical tools. They had a huge impact on several mathematical areas, advancing both mathematics and society in an unparalleled manner.**