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Born in 1946, Dr. Martin E. Hellman is a professor and associate departmental chair at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1969.

Martin Hellman is probably most famous for his work in cryptography, specifically, his involvement in the creation of public-key encryption.

Hellman spent his childhood a Jewish kid in a mostly Irish Catholic neighborhood. He came to embrace his status as a perpetual outsider, and credits his interest in cryptography to his unending desire to be different.

Teaming up with Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle, Hellman created the Diffie-Hellman-Merkle key exchange system in 1976. Hellman holds the honor of actually having the eureka moment late one night. So late, in fact, that he waited to call his research partners until the next morning after solving the problem.

Hellman merely developed a theoretical solution. The math involved made heavy use of one-way functions and modular arithmetic, and was so complicated that it would only be implemented a few years later when Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman created RSA encryption, which would later be used by Phil Zimmerman to create the ever-popular PGP.

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