News Article

Former GCHQ Chief Mathematician elected Fellow of the Royal Society

Last Updated: 01 May 2015
Prestigious scientific organisation honours Clifford Cocks, one of the developers of Public Key Cryptography.

News article - 01 May 2015

Former GCHQ Chief Mathematician Clifford Cocks has been elected to one of the most prestigious scientific fellowships in the UK and Commonwealth.

Cliff, 64, who helped develop what is now known as public key cryptography, was one of 47 new Fellows announced by the Royal Society today. Past Fellows and Foreign Members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein.

Alongside colleagues James Ellis and Malcolm Williamson, Cliff developed a practical method for public key encryption several years before it was independently discovered in the United States. Public key encryption has since been described as fundamental in electronic communications security.

Amongst his other achievements, Cliff was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 2008 and received the Gold Medal of the Institute of Mathematics in 2014. He was also instrumental in setting up the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research - a joint partnership between GCHQ and the University of Bristol.

Cliff said: "Not only do I feel humbled by the honour of being elected a Fellow, but it would also not have been possible without all the support I have had, both from my colleagues and from GCHQ throughout my career."

Robert Hannigan, Director GCHQ, said: "I am delighted that Cliff Cocks has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. This is a great public affirmation of his pioneering research into public key cryptography and a wonderful way to acknowledge his role in building the foundations of Internet security."



Cliff Cocks