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Dr Nicolas T. Courtois
UCL Computer Science
Gower Street
United Kingdom
Dr Nicolas T. Courtois profile picture
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Dept of Computer Science
  • Faculty of Engineering Science
Nicolas T. Courtois is a cryptologist and a Senior Lecturer at University College
London. He was born in Poland, studied pure mathematics and computer science at
Ecole Normale Supe´rieure rue d’Ulm, Paris, France and received his PhD in cryptography from the
Paris 6 University. Then he worked as a cryptographic engineer for the French smart
card firm Gemalto. He has 8 patents on applied cryptography and smart cards. 

He is a highly influential code-breaker with more than 100 regular publications and more than 6000 citations. His H-index is 32. In June 2003 New Scientist put a title ‘Cipher Crisis’ on the first page and dedicated a 4-pages paper to his research about the security of the U.S. encryption standard AES. He is responsible for the cryptanalysis of many real-life ciphers used by hundreds of hundreds of millions of people every day, such as the Bluetooth cipher E0, the automobile cipher KeeLoq and the MiFare Classic Crypto-1 system which is widely used in public transportation and building access control. 

In July 2009 Nicolas Courtois has published a "simultaneous differential attack" on the MiFare classic smart card, as used in London Oyster card, Amsterdam chipkart, building passes, UK Cabinet Office buildings, UCL buildings and elsewhere - about 200 million of these smart card are currently in circulation and more than 1 billion have been sold. Few months later the Transport for London stopped using this chip and replaced the Oyster card chip by another chip. 

In 2011 Nicolas Courtois have broken GOST, the official encryption standard of the Russian Federation while it was in the process of being standardized by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to become an international standard for encryption. 

Recipient of the UK University Cipher Champion 2013 award. 

Research Groups
Research Summary

Author of more than 100 papers in cryptography and 8 patents on applications of cryptography and smart cards. H-index 32 and 6000 citations according to Google scholar. 

Computational and experimental cryptanalysis -algebraic attacks: recover the secret key of a cipher by solving a very large system of multivariate equations over small finite fields.  

Solving NP-hard problems in practice -computing Grobner bases and designing simpler and sometimes much better/faster algorithms. 

Able to compute an OPTIMAL silicon implementation of any small circuit with a proof of optimality.

Security in complex commercial and industrial systems. 

Electronic payment and virtual currencies. 

Teaching Summary

Computer Security 1 COMPGA01
Applied Cryptography COMPGA12
Cryptanalysis COMPGA18
Smart cards lab and student projects.
UCL Bitcoin and crypto currecny research seminar.

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