Introduction to Cryptography

Computer Science 281/481
University of Rochester
Fall 2019


Instructor: Muthu Venkitasubramaniam

Time: TR 2:00-3:15
Place: B&L 269
Course Web page:

Office Hours: TBD

Recitation: W 18:15-9:30, B&L 270

TA: Hossein Faghihi (


Modern cryptography studies techniques for facilitating interactions between distrustful entities. Today, with the advent of the Internet, these techniques become indispensable – enabling, for instance, anonymous electronic elections, privacy-preserving electronic auctions, internet banking and more. In this course, we will introduce some of the fundamental concepts, protocols with rigorous proofs of security.


CS 280 (or equivalent), MTH150 (or mathematical maturity), or permission of instructor.
The main skills that will be assumed from these courses are: 1) the ability to understand and write formal mathematical definitions and proofs and 2) comfort with reasoning about algorithms, such as proving their correctness and analyzing their running times. It is also important that you are familiar with basic probability.

Course Administration

We will be using Piazza for this course. If you have not been invited please email the TA


There will be 4-5 homeworks and 2 midterms. Students taking the graduate course will be expected to do a final project. The grading scheme will be:

Homeworks 40%

Project 10%

Midterm(s) 20%

Quiz 30%

Note: This is the tentative grading scheme. It will be finalized by September 12.

Homework Policy

You are free to collaborate with other students on the homework (with a maximum of four in any group), but you must turn in your own individually written solution and you must specify the names of your collaborators. You are not allowed to use any published material beyond the resources specified on this webpage. Note that it is a violation of this policy to submit a problem solution that you are unable to explain orally to me. Homework submissions must be typesetted and uploaded to gradescope. Hand-written solutions will not be accepted..


Lecture notes covering a large fraction of the course can be found here [PS] (course notes developed by Rafael Pass and abhi shelat).

There is no required text for the course other than lecture notes. You may find the following two books to be useful references. Note, however, that we will not always be following the same notational conventions as these books.

·       [KL] Jonathan Katz and Yehuda Lindell. An Introduction to Modern Cryptography. This is an introductory textbook on cryptography. The level of the material and the mathematical treatment is similar to the one we will use in class. However, this book does not cover all of the material that we go through.

·       [G] Oded GoldreichFoundations of Cryptography. This is a very comprehensive treatment of the theoretical foundations of cryptography. Volume I and II include most of the material that we cover in class, but at a far greater depth and (at a more advanced level). This book is a great reference for students interested in more advanced studies in theoretical cryptography.

For a more applied treatment of cryptography, I suggest the following book which is available on-line.

·       Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot, and Scott A. Vanstone. Handbook of Applied Cryptography.

For background reading on probability, algorithms, and complexity theory, I recommend:

·       [CLR] Thomas H. Cormen , Charles E. Leiserson , Ronald L. Rivest, and Clifford Stein. Introduction to Algorithms.

·       Michael Sipser. Introduction to the Theory of Computation.


Lectures Outline

9/3 Lecture 1: What can Cryptography do for you?

Related Course

MTH 233: Introduction to Cryptography