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As you may know, the Gödel Prize 2013 will be awarded this year to cryptographers (see this ACM press release). The people awarded are Antoine Joux, the team of Dan Boneh and Matthew K. Franklin.

Can somebody explain their contribution to cryptography ?

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Joux's work is really summarized by this answer already on Crypto.SE. He discovered a way to generalize Diffie-Hellman to multiple (more than 2) parties. In particular though, he presented a single round protocol for key establishment between 3 parties. Something that until then was thought to be impossible.

Boneh and Franklin developed the first fully functioning identity based encryption (IBE) scheme. The premise of IBE is that your public key should be your public identifier (such as your email address) instead of simply a large number. Then, to say send you an encrypted email, the sender only needs to know your email address. IBE has led to other really cool constructions such as functional encryption and attribute-based encryption. For more on IBE, see What is Identity-Based Encryption (IBE) and why is it “better”?

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