Introduction to Cryptography

Computer Science 281/481
University of Rochester
Fall 2015


Instructor: Muthu Venkitasubramaniam

Time: TR 2:00-3:15
Place: CSB 601
Course Web page:

Office Hours: Tuesday 3:30p-4:30p (CSB 621)

TA: Grace Heard (, Office Hours: Friday 1:00p-2:00p (CSB 727)

TA: Jacob Bisnett (, Office Hours: Thursday 11:30a-12:30p (CSB 727)


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 TAs




You will be assigned to workshops. Please attend the workshop you have been assigned to.

Homework Policy

You are free to collaborate with other students on the homework, 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. Typed problem sets are strongly preferred.


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

1/24 Lecture 1: What can cryptography do for you? the match-making game and Kerchoff’s principles

1/26 Lecture cancelled

1/31 Lecture 2: Introduction to Probability

Related Course

MTH 233: Introduction to Cryptography