Martin E. Hellman is Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University and the inventor, along with Diffie and Merkle, of Public Key Cryptography.


A prolific academic researcher, he has made significant contributions to the fields of computer science, geopolitics, nuclear issues, international security, and computer privacy.

Hellman and Whitfield Diffie were awarded the ACM’s 2015 Turing Award, often called “The Nobel Prize of Computer Science” for their invention of public-key cryptography and digital signatures, a fundamental contribution to modern cryptography that now underlines security for the global digital economy, which transfers trillions of dollars a day.

Hellman’s work has also been recognized by a number of other international honors and awards, including election to the National Academy of Engineering, induction to the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, the Marconi International Fellowship, the IEEE Hamming Medal, the Franklin Institute’s Louis E. Levy Medal, and more.

Hellman and his wife Dorothie recently recently completed a book, A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet. Detailing Martin and Dorothie’s work on global issues, their work finds critical parallels between the process of improving martial and interpersonal relations with that of international relations and modern diplomatic strategy. It has won praise from prominent individuals including former United States Secretary of Defense William Perry, who called the book an “engaging and persuasive story relating domestic peace to world peace.”

During the Cold War, Hellman helped drive an unprecedented dialog between Soviet and Western scientific communities on the need for peace in the nuclear age. This effort culminated in Hellman’s co-editing of Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking with Soviet Professor Anatoly Gromyko. The work, a cooperation between over 30 leading Western and Soviet scholars, was an evidenced-based roadmap to peaceful global relations, leading to a future society “beyond war.” Breakthrough received critical acclaim from individuals ranging from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to CIA Director William Colby.

Hellman’s work in nuclear strategy and international relations is also highlighted by his authorship of Diffusing the Nuclear Threat, a risk-analysis to the potential failure of nuclear deterrence. Various aspects of the project have been endorsed by the President Emeritus of Stanford University and Former Head of the FDA, two Nobel laureates, Former Secretary of Defense William Perry, Former Secretary of State George Shultz, and Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, among others.

Hellman has authored over 80 technical papers, twelve US patents, and multiple international equivalents. Born in New York, NY in October 1945, Hellman received his B.E. from New York University in 1966, and his M.S. and PhD from Stanford University in 1967 and 1969, all in Electrical Engineering.