Course Syllabus

CSci 5471: Modern Cryptography

3 Credits
MW 9:45am-11:00, Armory 202
Spring 2019

Nick Hopper
Keller Hall 4-211

Zach Leidall
office hours in Keller Hall 2-209

Office Hours:
Regular Office hours can be found on the course Google calendar:

If you want to meet with one of us but can't make it to regular office hours, we will be happy to arrange appointments via email.

Course Overview:
This is a graduate course on Modern Cryptography. This course introduces basic concepts in cryptography and discusses both its theoretical foundations and practical applications. Various threats, attacks and countermeasures on cryptosystems, cryptographic protocols and their implementations will be addressed. The course will cover: brief history of cryptography, encryption (conventional and public key), digital signatures, hash functions, message authentication codes, identification, authentication, and their applications.

Goals and Objectives:
At the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Evaluate evidence for the strength of a cryptographic primitive or protocol.
  • Produce evidence, by the standards of the field, for the strength of a cryptographic protocol.
  • Recognize common vulnerabilities in cryptographic protocols and implementations.
  • Choose or design appropriate cryptographic protocols and implementation tools for security tasks.

The listed prerequisite for this course is an undergraduate course in algorithms. At UMN, this course is CSci 4041. More generally, however, we will expect students to have the skills of someone who has (mostly) completed an undergraduate computer science major. In particular, students should be able to write and debug programs in C and Java by themselves - it is not a proper use of the instructor or TA's time to help get your code running.

Furthermore, students must possess mathematical maturity: modern cryptography is fundamentally concerned with proofs, rigor, and mathematical models. We expect students to put in time outside of class to master the concepts presented in class; and we expect students to be resourceful: if a topic is mentioned in lecture along with a name, you can probably learn more using, e.g. google.

Lecture Schedule:
The course website includes a schedule of lectures for this course. The schedule includes the readings related to each class. Students are responsible for reading the appropriate materials before the lecture; we will not cover all of the reading material in the lecture but it will appear on homeworks and exams. Lecture slides will be linked from the schedule within a week after the corresponding lecture.

There are two required textbooks for this class:

  1. Katz and Lindell, "Introduction to Modern Cryptography, 2nd edition" Chapman & Hall / CRC, 2007.  This is a traditional textbook, with exercises and examples, heavily biased toward the theoretical aspects of Cryptography.
  2. Menezes, van Oorschot, and Vanstone, "Handbook of Applied Cryptography," CRC Press, 1997.  This is more of a reference work, with a slight bias toward applications.  It is somewhat dated, but is available for free on-line.

Grading for this course will be based on the following components:

  • Homeworks: For each of the 5 lecture "subunits" there will be a homework requiring you to apply the materials covered in this unit.  Succesfully completing these homeworks will require both mathematical maturity and programming experience, and will require students to engage with materials not covered in lecture.  Homeworks and their due dates are posted on the class schedule.  Students may work in groups of size at most 3 on the homeworks, but be warned: you are responsible for the choice of your group.  This means that if someone else in your group "was supposed to turn in the assignment" and didn't, or "didn't finish part c" of an exercise, you will not receive any special consideration in grading.   Solutions must be electronically typeset and submitted via canvas.

    Late submissions:  Homeworks turned in by 11:59pm on the day following their due date are worth 50%, and after that they are worth 0.

  • Quizzes: There will be 5 in-class quizzes, the dates of which are already posted on the class schedule.  Each quiz will potentially cover all materials covered in lectures and readings since the previous quiz.  Quizzes will be graded on a 10-point scale, with each student's worst quiz score dropped.

  • Final Exam: An open-book, open-notes final exam on Monday,  May 13. The exam will include  short answer questions.  Please notice that the exam and quiz dates are fixed and there will be no makeups.

  • Course Project. Course projects should attempt to perform original work related to cryptography. Projects will be done in groups, and will be graded based on a presentation (20%) and final paper (80%), along with three mandatory  meetings with the instructor.  More information on projects is posted on the "Project requirements" canvas page.  This page is part of the course syllabus and students are expected to read and understand the requirements.

Final scores will be computed as a weighted average of the homework total (20%), quiz total (25%), final exam score (25%), and project score (30%).   Grades will be assigned strictly on the following scale:

Grade Minimum Score
A 90.00
A- 86.00
B+ 82.00
B 78.00
B- 74.00
C+ 70.00
C 66.00
C- 62.00
D+ 58.00
D 54.00
F 0

Academic Integrity Policy:
We will ocassionally encourage the use of online resources for completing assignments in this course, and of course it is permitted for students to discuss in general how to solve problems.  However, it is never acceptable to use someone else's work without acknowledging it.  Every source you use or modify for an exercise, homework or project must be explicitly acknowledged.   Failure to do so will be considered plagiarism.

The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as: submission of false records of academic achievement; cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement. In this course, a student responsible for scholastic dishonesty will be assigned a penalty of an "F" or "N" for the course. If you have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, ask.


Student Workload Statement:

Students should expect to spend 2-3 hours on course readings each week, 15-20 hours on each homework set, and 50-75 hours on the course project over the course of the semester.

Student Conduct Code

The University seeks an environment that promotes academic achievement and integrity, that is protective of free inquiry, and that serves the educational mission of the University. Similarly, the University seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation; that is respectful of the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University; and that does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the University community.

As a student at the University you are expected adhere to Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code. To review the Student Conduct Code, please see:

Note that the conduct code specifically addresses disruptive classroom conduct, which means "engaging in behavior that substantially or repeatedly interrupts either the instructor's ability to teach or student learning. The classroom extends to any setting where a student is engaged in work toward academic credit or satisfaction of program-based requirements or related activities."

Sexual Harassment

"Sexual harassment" means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment in any University activity or program. Such behavior is not acceptable in the University setting. For additional information, please consult Board of Regents Policy:

Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action

The University provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs and facilities, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. For more information, please consult Board of Regents Policy:

Disability Accommodations

The University of Minnesota views disability as an important aspect of diversity, and is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) is the campus office that collaborates with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations.

  • If you have, or think you have, a disability in any area such as, mental health, attention, learning, chronic health, sensory, or physical, please contact the DRC office on your campus (612.626.1333) to arrange a confidential discussion regarding equitable access and reasonable accommodations.
  • Students with short-term disabilities, such as a broken arm, can often work with instructors to minimize classroom barriers. In situations where additional assistance is needed, students should contact the DRC as noted above.
  • If you are registered with the DRC and have a disability accommodation letter dated for this semester or this year, please contact your instructor early in the semester to review how the accommodations will be applied in the course.
  • If you are registered with the DRC and have questions or concerns about your accommodations please contact your (access consultant/disability specialist).

Additional information is available on the DRC website:  or  students may email with questions.

Mental Health and Stress Management

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance and may reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Student Mental Health Website:

Academic Freedom and Responsibility

Academic freedom is a cornerstone of the University. Within the scope and content of the course as defined by the instructor, it includes the freedom to discuss relevant matters in the classroom. Along with this freedom comes responsibility. Students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Students are free to take reasoned exception to the views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.

Reports of concerns about academic freedom are taken seriously, and there are individuals and offices available for help. Contact the instructor, the Department Chair, your adviser, the associate dean of the college, or the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the Office of the Provost.


Course Summary:

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