Friday, May 7, 2021

atsec scholarship connects logic and cryptography

 by Dr. Yi Mao


The two most repeated terms at the NIST Entropy Workshop held on April 27-29 are “mathematical model” and “justification.” That brought me back to my college days at Peking University where I first studied Mathematical Logic.


Logic is all about valid rules of inference. Mathematical logic applies the techniques of formal logic to mathematics and mathematical reasoning, and applies mathematical techniques to the representation and analysis of formal logic. It has four pillars: model theory, proof theory, set theory, and computability theory. While logic can be traced back to ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, mathematical logic made great progress in the period from the 1930s through the 1970s. The exciting developments in mathematical logic in this period set the foundation for computer science. Alan Turing and John von Neumann are both world-renowned mathematical logicians and computer scientists. The strong connection between the two fields has continued with no sign of slowing down, which is demonstrated in the NIST Entropy Workshop last week.


The book “Foundations of Logic and Mathematics: Applications to Computer Science and Cryptography,” and its newer edition “Logic, Mathematics, and Computer Science: Modern Foundations with Practical Applications,” elaborate their interconnections through model theory, proof theory, set theory, and computability theory. My professor at UT-Austin, Robert L. Causey, explains Why Logic is Important for Computer Science and Mathematics on his class webpage ( as follows.


“Logic is concerned with forms of reasoning. Since reasoning is involved in most intellectual activities, logic is relevant to a broad range of pursuits. The study of logic is essential for students of computer science. It is also very valuable for mathematics students, and others who make use of mathematical proofs, for instance, linguistics students.”


Holding a Ph.D. in mathematical logic from UT-Austin and being a lab director at atsec, I felt an enormous duty and responsibility to promote the tie between logic and computer science, which can be narrowed down to cryptography in particular or even just entropy source assessment in our daily work. atsec has been recruiting crypto experts with strong mathematical logic and computer science backgrounds. atsec has also established a scholarship at Peking University in memory of professor Song Wenjian to reward students who excel in logic.


Professor Song dedicated his entire life to teaching and researching logic till his passing in 2020. One of his biggest achievements is the creation of a logic major for undergraduates at Peking University in 1987. I was one of the first class of students who majored in logic and found this program had a profound influence on my pursuit of doctoral study and the security profession. 


The establishment of a scholarship in the name of Professor Song through the atsec donation is highly appreciated by Peking University and Professor Song’s family. The scholarship will inspire more students to study logic and its interconnected areas of Mathematics and Computer Science.


Peking University, nicknamed “Harvard of China,” is a prestigious university in Beijing that celebrated its 123rd birthday on the 4th of May. Adding to the celebration, Peking University held a scholarship launching ceremony on that memorable day. My colleagues Haiwei and Yan from our atsec China office attended the ceremony (first and third from the right in the front row of the picture below). 


For more information about this event in Chinese, see the news posted by Peking University at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated with the goal of reducing spam. This means that there may be a delay before your comment shows up.