Martin Hellman

Hellman, Martin

Martin Hellman

  • CISAC Affiliated Faculty Member
  • Professor (Emeritus) of Electrical Engineering

Not in residence


Martin E. Hellman is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford, a recipient (joint with Whit Diffie) of the million dollar ACM Turing Award, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He became a CISAC affiliated faculty member in October 2012.

Hellman is best known for his invention, with Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle, of public key cryptography. In addition to many other uses, this technology forms the basis for secure transactions and cybersecurity on the Internet. He also has been a long-time contributor to the computer privacy debate, starting with the issue of DES key size in 1975 and continuing with service (1994-96) on the National Research Council's Committee to Study National Cryptographic Policy, whose main recommendations were implemented soon afterward.

Prof. Hellman also has a deep interest in the ethics of technological development. With Prof. Anatoly Gromyko of Moscow, he co-edited Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking, a book published simultaneously in Russian and English in 1987 during the rapid change in Soviet-American relations (available as a free, 2.6 MB PDF download). In 1986, he and his wife of fifty years published, A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet, a book that provides a “unified field theory” for successful relationships by illuminating the connections between nuclear war, conventional war, interpersonal war, and war within our own psyches (available as a free, 1.2 MB PDF download).
His current research is devoted to bringing a risk-informed framework to nuclear deterrence and critically examining the assumptions that underlie our national security.

Prof. Hellman was at IBM's Watson Research Center from 1968-69 and an assistant professor of EE at MIT from 1969-71. Returning to Stanford in 1971, he served on the regular faculty until becoming Professor Emeritus in 1996. He has authored over seventy technical papers, six US patents and a number of foreign equivalents.

More information on Professor Hellman is available on his EE Department website. His publications, many  of which can be downloaded in PDF, are on the publications page of that site.


Journal Articles
March 2011

How Risky Is Nuclear Optimism?

cover link How Risky Is Nuclear Optimism?
Journal Articles
March 2008

Risk Analysis of Nuclear Deterrence

cover link Risk Analysis of Nuclear Deterrence

In The News

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Martin Hellman wonders why Tonkin Gulf incidents seem forgotten

cover link Martin Hellman wonders why Tonkin Gulf incidents seem forgotten