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Mathematics & Statistics

The R. Kent Nagle Lecture Series

February 24, 2005

Andrew M. Odlyzko explores the topic “Cybersecurity, Mathematics, and Limits on Technology”

Audience The talk is open, intended for the general public, and it is free.
Date February 24, 2005
Time Thursday evening, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Place BSF 100, at USF-Tampa (For a map of the campus, click here.)
Parking Free parking is available in the lot adjacent to the lecture hall and in the lot just to the south of the Administration Building, if necessary.

Andrew M. Odlyzko

Andrew M. Odlyzko

Andrew M. Odlyzko
Cybersecurity, Mathematics, and Limits on Technology

Description of the Talk

Mathematics has contributed immensely to the development of secure cryptosystems and protocols. Yet our networks are terribly insecure, and we are constantly threatened with the prospect of imminent doom. Furthermore, even though such warnings have been common for the last two decades, the situation has not gotten any better. On the other hand, there have not been any great disasters either. To understand this paradox, we need to consider not just the technology, but also the economics, sociology, and psychology of security. Any technology that requires care from millions of people, most very unsophisticated in technical issues, will be limited in its effectiveness by what those people are willing and able to do. This imposes strong limits on what formal mathematical methods can accomplish, and suggests that we will have to put up with the equivalent of baling wire and chewing gum, and to live on the edge of intolerable frustration.

Description of the Speaker

Andrew M. Odlyzko is the director of the Digital Technology Center, Professor of Mathematics, and holds an ADC endowed chair at the University of Minnesota. He graduated from Caltech and received his Ph.D from MIT as a Hertz Foundation Fellow. His research interests are so diverse that we can only list a few: Computational complexity, cryptography, number theory, combinatorics, coding theory, analysis, probability, electronic publishing, electronic commerce, economics of data networks, and technology and society. He is on editorial boards of more than twenty mathematical journals, and is on several advisory boards. He was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1986, and has been a keynote speaker at numerous workshops and conferences on mathematics, computer science, and technology. He holds patents in network congestion, economics, and cryptography. Professor Odlyzko has an honorary doctororate from the University of Marne La Vallee.