Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type



Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science

First Advisor

Philip Rose

Second Advisor

Mark Parker

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Morris


The RSA System is built upon ideas that were previously published by other cryptographic experts. In 1976, a paper entitled "New Directions in Cryptography" was written and published by Martin Heilman and Whitfield Diffie. This paper, in turn, used ideas that were previously published in Ralph Merkel's paper, "Secure Communications over Insecure Channels". The idea behind both of these papers is the use of a one-way trapdoor function, y=f{x), that has the property that if the x value is known, then y can be easily calculated. However, if y is provided, then x is either impossible or extremely difficult to calculate. This means that if a plaintext message x was encoded into the ciphertext message y, and the ciphertext message y was intercepted, it would be very difficult to get back the plaintext message x.