COMP 590/790: Introduction to Cryptography

Fall 2022
Instructor: Saba Eskandarian
Contact: or anonymous feedback form
TAs: Houlton McGuinn and Max Christman
Lectures: Mon/Wed 11:15am-12:30pm, SN 0011
Instructor Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10-11am, 2-3pm (Brooks 346), additional OH by appointment
TA Office Hours:
  Thurs 11am-12pm, location TBD (Max)
  Thurs 12:30-1:30pm, location TBD (Houlton)
  Fri 12-1pm, location TBD (Houlton)
  Fri 3-4pm, location TBD (Max)
Course Schedule
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Course Description

Cryptography is an indispensable tool for protecting information in computer systems. Our web browsers use it almost every time we connect to a website; it protects our private messages from prying eyes; it enables the modern world of online commerce; and it guards the freedoms of journalists, dissidents, and oppressed groups throughout the world.

At the same time, cryptography has deep connections to the theory of computation, number theory, algebra, and computational complexity theory. Major open questions in cryptography have immediate ramifications for whether P=NP, and cryptography research has given rise to several of the most beautiful ideas in computer science. These ideas (which we will cover) have been recognized by several Turing awards.

This course will introduce you to both sides of cryptography. Our main focus will be on the inner workings of cryptographic primitives and how to use them correctly. We will begin with standard cryptographic tools such as encryption, message authentication, key exchange, and digital signatures before moving on to more advanced topics like elliptic curves, post-quantum cryptography, and zero-knowledge. See the course schedule page for a more detailed list of topics. Throughout the course we will also explore the techniques used in modern cryptography to reason about the security of cryptographic schemes.


Programming assignments will use Python. There will also be a midterm exam in class on Monday, October 17.


The following resources may be helpful as reference throughout the course.