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Bailey Whitfield 'Whit' Diffie (born June 5 1944) is a USmarker cryptographer and one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker in 1965.

Diffie and Martin Hellman's paper New Directions in Cryptography was published in 1976. It introduced a radically new method of distributing cryptographic keys, that went far toward solving one of the fundamental problems of cryptography, key distribution. It has become known as Diffie-Hellman key exchange. The article also seems to have stimulated the almost immediate public development of a new class of encryption algorithms, the asymmetric key algorithms.

Diffie was Manager of Secure Systems Research for Northern Telecom, where he designed the key management architecture for the PDSO security system for X.25 networks.

In 1991 he joined Sun Microsystems Laboratories (in Menlo Park, Californiamarker) as a Distinguished Engineer, working primarily on public policy aspects of cryptography. As of May 2007 Diffie remains with Sun, serving as its Chief Security Officer and as a Vice President. He is also a Sun Fellow.

In 1992 he was awarded a Doctorate in Technical Sciences (Honoris Causa) by the ETH Zurichmarker. He is also a fellow of the Marconi Foundation and visiting fellow of the Isaac Newton Institutemarker. He has received various awards from other organisations. In July 2008, he was also awarded a Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by Royal Holloway, University of Londonmarker.

Diffie and Susan Landau's book Privacy on the Line was published in 1998 on the politics of wiretapping and encryption. An updated and expanded edition appeared in 2007.

Diffie is a visiting professor at the Information Security Group based at Royal Holloway, University of Londonmarker.

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