The A in RSA

The RSA algorithm for public-key encryption is used practically whenever a secure connection must be established. The A in RSA is Leonard Adleman. He recieved the Turing Award for this work. He is also doing lots of rather theoretical stuff with DNA.

His reply to the Hamming question is:

Your question is a good one and to give a complete answer would require more time than I currently have; so I will just provide a brief remark:

  1. NP≟P (or some varient of it) is the most important open problem in CS. It is also on the short list of most important open problems in mathematic (see the Cole prize).
  2. I don’t work on it for 2 reasons. First, I did work on it for a few years as a youth, I had a few ideas worth (I thought) writing down (see “Time Space and Randomness” by moi), but ultimately I came to the conclusion that the problem was not “ripe” – ready to be solved. A few more decades (at least) of research would be required. It is for this reason that I changed my research to work on Fermat’s Last Theorem instead. My intuition suggested that, after 3 centuries, the problem was ripe. When Andrew Wiles proved FLT a few years ago, my consolation prize was to know that at least my intuition was correct.

Adleman is the first to respond with the P=NP problem. Is the P≟NP problem more a prestige problem than a theoretical one? Whether the result is useful depends on the answer. So we don’t know how important it is.

Published in: on August 26, 2007 at 7:41 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I feel that a result settling P ?= NP will be useful whatever the answer is. This is also a deep theoretical problem. However, many theoreticians don’t actively work on it because they need to publish in order to get PhD’s/get tenure/etc. Focusing solely on such a hard problem is the luxury of ppl with secure positions in academia.

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