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Roger Needham

Roger Needham
Roger Needham.jpg
Roger Needham in 1999
Born (1935-02-09)9 February 1935
Died 1 March 2003(2003-03-01) (aged 68)
Willingham, Cambridgeshire
Residence United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Known for Needham–Schroeder protocol
BAN logic
Tiny Encryption Algorithm
Spouse(s) Karen Spärck Jones
Awards Faraday Medal (1998)
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Scientific career
Fields Computer science
Institutions University of Cambridge
Thesis The application of digital computers to problems of classification and grouping (1962)
Doctoral advisor David Wheeler
Doctoral students

Roger Michael Needham, CBE, FRS, FREng (9 February 1935 – 1 March 2003)[1] was a British computer scientist.

Early life

He attended Doncaster Grammar School for Boys in Doncaster (then in the West Riding).

Needham began his undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge in 1953, graduating with a B.A. in 1956 in mathematics and philosophy. His Ph.D. thesis was on applications of digital computers to the automatic classification and retrieval of documents. He worked on a variety of key computing projects in security, operating systems, computer architecture (capability systems) and local area networks.


Among his theoretical contributions is the development of the Burrows-Abadi-Needham logic for authentication, generally known as the BAN logic. His Needham–Schroeder (coinvented with Michael Schroeder) security protocol forms the basis of the Kerberos authentication and key exchange system. He also codesigned the TEA and XTEA encryption algorithms. He pioneered the technique of protecting passwords using a one-way hash function.[2][3]

He joined Cambridge's Computer Laboratory, then called the Mathematical Laboratory, in 1962, became head of the laboratory in 1980, was made a professor in 1981 and remained with the laboratory until his retirement in 1995. Needham then set up Microsoft's UK-based Research Laboratory in 1997. He was also one of the founding Fellows of University College, Cambridge, which became Wolfson College.

Needham was elected to the Royal Society in 1985, became a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1993 and received a CBE for his contributions to computing in 2001. He also was a longtime and respected member of the International Association for Cryptologic Research, the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Security and Privacy and the University Grants Committee. He was made a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1994.[4]

Needham held honorary doctorate degrees from University of Twente, Loughborough University, and University of Kent.

Personal life

Needham married Karen Spärck Jones in 1958. Needham died of cancer in March 2003 at his home in Willingham, Cambridgeshire.[5]

Roger Needham Award

The British Computer Society, in 2004, established an annual Roger Needham Award in Needham's honour.[6] A £5000 prize is presented to an individual for making "a distinguished research contribution in computer science by a UK-based researcher within ten years of their PhD." The award is funded by Microsoft Research. The winner of the prize has an opportunity to give a public lecture. A list of previous recipients follows.[7]

  • 2004 Jane Hillston on Tuning Systems: From Composition to Performance
  • 2005 Ian Horrocks on Ontologies and the Semantic Web
  • 2006 Andrew Fitzgibbon on Computer Vision & the Geometry of Nature
  • 2007 Mark Handley on Evolving the Internet: Challenges, Opportunities and Consequences
  • 2008 Wenfei Fan on A Revival of Data Dependencies for Improving Data Quality
  • 2009 Byron Cook on Proving that programs eventually do something good
  • 2010 Joël Ouaknine on Timing is Everything[8]
  • 2011 Maja Pantic on Machine Understanding of Human Behaviour
  • 2012 Dino Distefano on Memory Safety Proofs for the Masses
  • 2013 Boris Motik on Theory and Practice: The Yin and Yang of Intelligent Information Systems

EuroSys Roger Needham PhD Award

A separate prize honoring Roger Needham has been established by EuroSys, the "EuroSys Roger Needham PhD Award". This annual prize awards €2,000 to a PhD student from a European University whose thesis is regarded to be an exceptional, innovative contribution to knowledge in the Computer Systems area. Past winners have been:

See also


  1. ^ Hoare, T.; Wilkes, M. V. (2004). "Roger Michael Needham CBE FREng. 9 February 1935 - 1 March 2003: Elected F.R.S. 1985". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 50: 183. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2004.0014. 
  2. ^ Wilkes, M. V. Time-Sharing Computer Systems. American Elsevier, New York, (1968).
  3. ^ Schofield, Jack (10 March 2003). "Roger Needham". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ "ACM Fellow Roger Needham Dies at 62". Pressroom. ACM. March 7, 2003. 
  5. ^ Peterson, Kim (6 March 2003). "Microsoft's Needham dies from cancer". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Roger Needham Lecture at the British Computer Society website
  7. ^ Roger Needham Award at BCS website
  8. ^ "News releases - Press Office - Policy and media - BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT". 

External links