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Jan 06, 2021

Algorand Welcomes Chris Peikert, World Leader in Lattice-based and Post-quantum Cryptography, as Head of Cryptography

By: Algorand

Algorand is excited to announce that Chris Peikert has joined the distinguished team of experts at Algorand, and will bring his deep expertise in advanced cryptography to Algorand’s next-generation blockchain platform. Algorand, with a clear vision for what is needed for the future of finance, has seen increased adoption across financial organizations and central bank digital currencies in particular. With purpose-built functionality built directly into layer-1, Algorand's pure proof-of-stake blockchain is proving a compelling option for sophisticated applications of the future.

“I made the decision to join Algorand after seeing the recent momentum and excitement around what the platform is capable of. It has strong backing, an impressive team, and elegant technology that is some of the most powerful available. Silvio Micali, who was my PhD adviser at MIT in the early 2000s, reached out and the more I learned about Algorand and its cryptography research, the more excited I became to get involved,” said Chris Peikert.  “For the past 15 years I have been working on the theory and practice of post-quantum cryptography. Being at Algorand is a unique opportunity to be a part of moving it toward deployment in a large real-world system.”

Peikert will be working on several projects with Algorand. First, he will be advancing several existing projects that improve Algorand’s functionality and performance. This includes Algorand Co-Chains, which support private instances running alongside the public Algorand MainNet, and compact certificates, which allow for quickly establishing confidence in the validity of a new block or the current state of the chain.

Another major thrust of his work will be to make Algorand’s core protocols quantum resilient, also known as “post-quantum,” while retaining the platform’s excellent performance and transaction rate. The cryptography used in all of today’s popular blockchains is, in principle, totally breakable by large-scale quantum computers. If such computers are ever built---and there is intense effort and steady progress in this direction---they would be able to steal money by forging transactions, violate privacy by decrypting confidential ones, or even retroactively “rewrite history” on the blockchain. Therefore, long-term security calls for post-quantum cryptography, which can be used by ordinary computers but will remain unbreakable even by quantum ones. Today there are many promising post-quantum cryptosystems, but they have very different requirements and efficiency profiles from legacy systems. One of Peikert’s  primary goals is to find ways of integrating post-quantum cryptography into Algorand’s protocols while preserving their efficiency.

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Chris Peikert, Head of Cryptography at Algorand

Chris Peikert, Fellow and Head of Cryptography at Algorand, is a world leader in lattice-based and post-quantum cryptography. He has devised many widely used cryptosystems, efficient algorithms, and security proofs for post-quantum digital signatures, identity-based encryption, pseudorandom functions, zero knowledge proofs, learning with errors, fully homomorphic encryption, and more. His research has heavily influenced several proposals that have advanced through several rounds of NIST’s ongoing post-quantum cryptography standardization process.

Peikert is also the Patrick C. Fischer Development Professor in the University of Michigan’s Computer Science and Engineering division. He received his Ph.D. from MIT in 2006 under the supervision of Silvio Micali, and has previously held research and faculty positions at SRI International and Georgia Tech.

His recognitions include a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation Bergmann Memorial Award, Best/Distinguished Paper Awards at STOC, Crypto, and Eurocrypt (among others), and the Test of Time Award from the Theory of Cryptography Conference.

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