Margaret H. Wright: 2008 Math Is Key

How Hard Can It Be?

Some problems in life are extremely hard (achieving world peace) while others are, for most of us, pretty easy (eating a good breakfast). How can we figure out in advance which problems are necessarily hard, sometimes hard, seldom easy, or frequently easy? This talk will describe how mathematics can very often (but not always) help to answer these questions, focusing mainly on how questions of hardness affect cryptography and computer security.

Margaret H. Wright is a Silver Professor Computer Science at Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.