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Research Highlights

CODING AND CRYPTOGR​APHY RESEARCH GROUP


The Coding and Cryptography Research Group is led by a group of seven faculty members – CHEE Yeow Meng, LING San, Frédérique OGGIER, Thomas PEYRIN, WANG Huaxiong, WU Hongjun, and XING Chaoping. They are active in multiple areas of coding and cryptography research, ranging from theoretical formulations of cryptographic schemes to their practical implementation and application.

Coding Theory and Cryptography

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The rapid growth of the Internet and World Wide Web has brought tremendous opportunities for online commercial activities, business transactions and government services, delivered over open (and increasingly mobile) computer and communications networks. This is possible only so long as communications can be conducted in a secure and reliable way. The mathematical theory and practice of coding theory and cryptography underpins the provision of effective security and reliability for data communication, processing and storage. In the Coding and Cryptography Research Group, we are constantly pursuing further theoretical and practical advances in the field, which is crucial for supporting the growth of data communications and data networks of various types. Our research helps to support the operations of rapidly growing e-commerce services, as well as helping to strengthen the national safeguard capability of Singapore’s digital systems and infrastructure, and consolidate Singapore’s leading position in the telecommunication and information industries.

Coding and Cryptography: Two Sides of the Same Coin

The fields of Coding and Cryptography both stem from Claude Shannon’s pioneering work in the late 1940s.

Coding Theory is the branch of mathematics that investigates how to encode information in such a way that it becomes resistant to transmission errors. It is concerned with the properties of various codes (including cyclic codes, BCH codes, MDS codes and algebraic-geometric codes), and their efficient decoding algorithms.

Cryptography is the mathematical theory of data confidentiality, authentication, nonrepudiation, data integrity, privacy and access control and availability. It protects information against unauthorised access and determines if a message has been altered by a third party.

Applications of coding theory and cryptography range from correcting errors (e.g., allowing music and data discs to function despite scratches and dust), protecting mobile phone conversations from fading, cancelling out the noise associated with high frequency radio transmission, as well as safeguarding ATM cards, computer passwords and online payments.

Future Challenges

Today, high speed and broad bandwidth is the dictum for modern computer and communications systems. However, the proliferation of low-cost devices – the enablers of the pervasive computing paradigm – has brought along the threat of exploitation by potential adversaries. New techniques, methods and tools for coding theory and cryptography must be developed to tackle new and emerging technologies.

The last decade has witnessed exciting developments emerging from coding and cryptography research, such as the invention of zero-knowledge proofs, completeness results for multi-party computations, and the renewal of lattice-based cryptography. The combination of these results is extremely powerful, as it denotes that virtually any cryptographic problem can be solved by making some reasonable assumptions.

In today’s applications, even a simple public-key operation is sometimes considered too slow in relations to the speed required by the application. It is therefore urgent to develop special solutions offering high efficiency for specific computational tasks. This is where research on lightweight cryptography and hash functions plays an important role. Hash functions are among the fastest cryptography primitives available, and have countless security applications.

Furthermore, the discovery of side-channel attacks has shown that today the implementation of an algorithm is often the weakest link of a security system and, hence, needs thorough investigation. In our research on cryptanalysis, we analyse proposed cryptographic schemes and try to invalidate them as a way to detect security weaknesses and new threats. Our research harnesses diverse, sophisticated mathematical tools, ranging from algebra to combinatorics and number theory, and applies them to the development of new cryptographic and coding techniques.​

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