Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2008/390

Elliptic Curve Cryptography: The Serpentine Course of a Paradigm Shift

Ann Hibner Koblitz and Neal Koblitz and Alfred Menezes

Abstract: Over a period of sixteen years elliptic curve cryptography went from being an approach that many people mistrusted or misunderstood to being a public key technology that enjoys almost unquestioned acceptance. We describe the sometimes surprising twists and turns in this paradigm shift, and compare this story with the commonly accepted Ideal Model of how research and development function in cryptography. We also discuss to what extent the ideas in the literature on "social construction of technology" can contribute to a better understanding of this history.

Category / Keywords: public-key cryptography /

Publication Info: Also available at

Date: received 11 Sep 2008, last revised 15 Aug 2011

Contact author: ajmeneze at uwaterloo ca

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Version: 20110815:115230 (All versions of this report)

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