Adi Shamir


Information and Communication Technologies

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies category goes, in this tenth edition, to Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Micali, Ronald Rivest and Adi Shamir for their “fundamental contributions to modern cryptology, an area of a tremendous impact on our everyday life,” in the words of the jury’s citation. “Their advanced crypto-protocols enable the safe and secure transmission of electronic data, ranging from e-mail to financial transactions. In addition, their work provides the underpinning for digital signatures, blockchains and crypto-currencies,” like Bitcoin.


Adi Shamir (Tel Aviv, Israel, 1952) received a BSc in Mathematics from Tel Aviv University and went on to obtain a PhD in Computer Science in 1977 from the Weizmann Institute of Science. From 1977 to 1983, he was a researcher and assistant professor at MIT. It was there he met Ron Rivest and Len Adleman, with whom he went on to invent the RSA algorithm. After completing his stay at MIT, he returned to the Weizmann Institute, where he now holds the Borman Professional Chair of Computer Science.

As well as his work on RSA, secret sharing and differential cryptanalysis, the Israeli scientist succeeded in breaking the Merkle-Hellman cryptosystem, one of the first public-key schemes in existence. He is also the designer of the TWIRL and TWINKLE factoring devices, the author of identify-based cryptography and inventor of visual cryptography, based on breaking up an image – which could be a text – such that the resulting pieces appear to be a random scattering of black and white pixels.