Dr. Martin Hellman 2013

Professor Martin Hellman of Stanford University is best known for his invention, with Diffie and Merkle, of public key cryptography. This technology secures literally trillions of dollars a day in financial transactions, ranging from Internet credit card purchases to electronic banking and foreign exchange.

Hellman has a deep interest in the ethics of technological development and coedited a book, Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking, which was published simultaneously in Russian and English in 1987 during the rapid change in Soviet-American relations. His current work in this area focuses on using quantitative risk analysis to assess the level of risk posed by our current nuclear weapons strategy, and to reduce that risk to a more acceptable level.

Hellman played a key role in the computer privacy debate, and his efforts to overcome ethnic tension within the university have been recognized by three awards from minority student organizations.

His work has been recognized by numerous awards including election to the National Academy of Engineering, the Marconi Fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award, and the IEEE’s Hamming Medal. Besides the Silicon Valley Hall of Fame, he has been inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame and the Cyber Security Hall of Fame.

Over the last thirty-five years Hellman has been involved with a number of Silicon Valley high tech startups, serving variously as a founder, advisor, and investor. His hobbies include soaring, speed skating, and hiking. He lives with his wife on the Stanford campus.