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Ralph Merkle

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Citizenship  American
Spouse  Carol Shaw
Role  Cryptographer

Name  Ralph Merkle
Nationality  American
Doctoral advisor  Martin Hellman
Ralph Merkle Photos of Ralph C Merkle

Born  February 2, 1952 (age 63)Berkeley, California (1952-02-02)
Institutions  Singularity UniversityAlcor Life Extension FoundationInstitute for Molecular ManufacturingElxsiGeorgia Institute of Technology
Alma mater  UC Berkeley (B.A., 1974)Stanford University (M.S., 1977; Ph.D., 1979)
Thesis  Secrecy, authentication and public key systems
Known for  Co-inventor of public key cryptographyMerkle treeMerkle's puzzlesMerkle–Hellman knapsack cryptosystemMerkle–Damgard construction
Books  Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, Secrecy, authentication, and public key systems
Education  Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Liver High School
Fields  Public-key cryptography, Molecular nanotechnology, Cryonics
Similar People  Martin Hellman, Robert Freitas, Whitfield Diffie, K Eric Drexler

Big thinkers ralph merkle nanotechnologist

Ralph C. Merkle (born February 2, 1952) is a computer scientist. He is one of the inventors of public key cryptography, the inventor of cryptographic hashing, and more recently a researcher and speaker of cryonics.


Ralph Merkle wwwmerklecomimagesmerkleByGreenSmalljpg

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Ralph Merkle Ralph Merkle Profile on Exponential Times

Merkle devised a scheme for communication over an insecure channel: Merkle's puzzles as part of a class project while an undergraduate. The scheme is now recognized to be an early example of public key cryptography. He co-invented the Merkle–Hellman knapsack cryptosystem, invented cryptographic hashing (now called the Merkle–Damgård construction based on a pair of articles published 10 years later that established the security of the scheme), and invented Merkle trees. While at Xerox PARC, Merkle designed the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers, and the Snefru hash function.


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Merkle was the manager of compiler development at Elxsi from 1980. In 1988, he became a research scientist at Xerox PARC. In 1999 he became a nanotechnology theorist for Zyvex. In 2003 he became a Distinguished Professor at Georgia Tech, where he led the Georgia Tech Information Security Center. In 2006 he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has been a senior research fellow at IMM, a faculty member at Singularity University, and a board member of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. He was awarded the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal in 2010.

Personal life

Ralph Merkle Ralph Merkle An introduction to Molecular Nanotechnology

Ralph Merkle is the grandnephew of baseball star Fred Merkle, the son of Theodore Charles Merkle, director of Project Pluto and the brother of Judith Merkle Riley, a historical writer. Merkle is married to Carol Shaw, the video game designer best known for her game, River Raid.

Merkle is on the Board of Directors of the cryonics organization Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

Merkle appears in the science fiction novel The Diamond Age, involving nanotechnology.


  • 1996 Paris Kanellakis Award
  • 1996 ACM Award for the Invention of Public Key Cryptography.
  • 1998 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for computational modeling of molecular tools for atomically-precise chemical reactions
  • 1999 IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award
  • 2000 RSA award for the invention of public key cryptography.
  • 2008 International Association for Cryptographic Research (IACR) fellow for the invention of public key cryptography.
  • 2010 IEEE Hamming Medal for the invention of public key cryptography
  • 2011 Computer History Museum Fellow "for his work, with Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, on public key cryptography."
  • 2011 National Inventors Hall of Fame, for the invention of public key cryptography
  • 2012 National Cyber Security Hall of Fame inductee
  • References

    Ralph Merkle Wikipedia