Dr Robert Granger

Senior Lecturer in Secure Systems
MSci (Mathematics), PhD (Computer Science)
+44 (0)1483 683037
15 BB 02
Tuesday 14.00 - 16.00 (appointments bookable via MS TEAMS)


Areas of specialism

Computational number theory and algebraic geometry; Cryptography and cryptanalysis; Algorithm design; Discrete mathematics; Finite field theory


In the media

Interviewed live on World Radio Switzerland to talk about breaking an industry-standard ‘128-bit secure’ genus two supersingular curve.
World Radio Switzerland
Maths whizzes in bits after record code crack
Irish Sunday Times


Research interests


Postgraduate research supervision

My teaching

My publications


Robert Granger, Thorsten Kleinjung, Jens Zumbrägel (2018)Indiscreet logarithms in finite fields of small characteristic, In: Advances in Mathematics of Communications12(2)pp. 263-286 American Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Recently, several striking advances have taken place regarding the discrete logarithm problem (DLP) in finite fields of small characteristic, despite progress having remained essentially static for nearly thirty years, with the best known algorithms being of subexponential complexity. In this expository article we describe the key insights and constructions which culminated in two independent quasi-polynomial algorithms. To put these developments into both a historical and a mathematical context, as well as to provide a comparison with the cases of so-called large and medium characteristic fields, we give an overview of the state-of-the-art algorithms for computing discrete logarithms in all finite fields. Our presentation aims to guide the reader through the algorithms and their complexity analyses ab initio.

Robert Granger (2019)On the Enumeration of Irreducible Polynomials over GF(q) with Prescribed Coefficients, In: Finite Fields and Their Applications57pp. 156-229 Elsevier

We present an efficient deterministic algorithm which outputs exact expressions in terms of n for the number of monic degree n irreducible polynomials over Fq of characteristic p for which the first l˂p coefficients are prescribed, provided that n is coprime to p. Each of these counts is 1n(qn−l + O(qn/2)). The main idea behind the algorithm is to associate to an equivalent problem a set of Artin-Schreier curves defined over Fq whose number of Fqn-rational affine points must be combined. This is accomplished by computing their zeta functions using a p-adic algorithm due to Lauder and Wan. Using the computational algebra system Magma one can, for example, compute the zeta functions of the arising curves for q=5 and l=4 very efficiently, and we detail a proof-of-concept demonstration. Due to the failure of Newton's identities in positive characteristic, the l≥p cases are seemingly harder. Nevertheless, we use an analogous algorithm to compute example curves for q=2 and l≤7, and for q=3 and l=3. Again using Magma, for q=2 we computed the relevant zeta functions for l=4 and l=5, obtaining explicit formulae for these open problems for n odd, as well as for subsets of these problems for all n, while for q=3 we obtained explicit formulae for l=3 and n coprime to 3. We also discuss some of the computational challenges and theoretical questions arising from this approach in the general case and propose some natural open problems.

Robert Granger, Philipp Jovanovic, Bart Mennink, Samuel Neves (2016)Improved Masking for Tweakable Blockciphers with Applications to Authenticated Encryption, In: Advances in Cryptology – EUROCRYPT 20169665pp. 263-293 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

A popular approach to tweakable blockcipher design is via masking, where a certain primitive (a blockcipher or a permutation) is preceded and followed by an easy-to-compute tweak-dependent mask. In this work, we revisit the principle of masking. We do so alongside the introduction of the tweakable Even-Mansour construction MEM. Its masking function combines the advantages of word-oriented LFSR- and powering-up-based methods. We show in particular how recent advancements in computing discrete logarithms over finite fields of characteristic 2 can be exploited in a constructive way to realize highly efficient, constant-time masking functions. If the masking satisfies a set of simple conditions, then MEM is a secure tweakable blockcipher up to the birthday bound. The strengths of MEM are exhibited by the design of fully parallelizable authenticated encryption schemes OPP (nonce-respecting) and MRO (misuse-resistant). If instantiated with a reducedround BLAKE2b permutation, OPP and MRO achieve speeds up to 0.55 and 1.06 cycles per byte on the Intel Haswell microarchitecture, and are able to significantly outperform their closest competitors.

Omran Ahmadi, Robert Granger (2012)On isogeny classes of Edwards curves over finite fields, In: Journal of Number Theory132(6)pp. 1337-1358 Elsevier

We count the number of isogeny classes of Edwards curves over odd characteristic finite fields, answering a question recently posed by Rezaeian and Shparlinski. We also show that each isogeny class contains a complete Edwards curve, and that an Edwards curve is isogenous to an original Edwards curve over Fq if and only if its group order is divisible by 8 if q ≡ −1 (mod 4), and 16 if q ≡ 1 (mod 4). Furthermore, we give formulae for the proportion of d ∈ Fq ____ {0, 1} for which the Edwards curve Ed is complete or original, relative to the total number of d in each isogeny class

Omran Ahmadi, Robert Granger (2013)An efficient deterministic test for Kloosterman sum zeros, In: Mathematics of Computation83(285)pp. 347-363 American Mathematical Society

We propose a simple deterministic test for deciding whether or not an element a ∈ F×2n or F×3n is a zero of the corresponding Kloosterman sum over these fields, and rigorously analyse its runtime. The test seems to have been overlooked in the literature. The expected cost of the test for binary fields is a single point-halving on an associated elliptic curve, while for ternary fields the expected cost is one-half of a point-thirding on an associated elliptic curve. For binary fields of practical interest, this represents an O(n) speedup over the previous fastest test. By repeatedly invoking the test on random elements of F×2n we obtain the most efficient probabilistic method to date to find nontrivial Kloosterman sum zeros. The analysis depends on the distribution of Sylow p-subgroups in the two families of associated elliptic curves, which we ascertain using a theorem due to Howe.

Omran Ahmadi, Faruk Göloğlu, Robert Granger, Gary McGuire, Emrah Sercan Yilmaz (2016)Fibre products of supersingular curves and the enumeration of irreducible polynomials with prescribed coefficients, In: Finite Fields and Their Applications42pp. 128-164 Elsevier

For any positive integers n≥3, r≥1 we present formulae for the number of irreducible polynomials of degree n over the finite field F2r where the coefficients of xn−1, xn−2 and xn−3 are zero. Our proofs involve counting the number of points on certain algebraic curvesover finite fields, a technique which arose from Fourier-analysing the known formulae for the F2 base field cases, reverse-engineering an economical new proof and then extending it. This approach gives rise to fibre products of supersingular curves and makes explicit why the formulae have period 24 in n.

Robert Granger, A. J. Holt, D. Page, N. P. Smart, F. Vercauteren (2004)Function Field Sieve in Characteristic Three, In: Algorithmic Number Theory3076pp. 223-234 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

In this paper we investigate the efficiency of the function field sieve to compute discrete logarithms in the finite fields F3n . Motivated by attacks on identity based encryption systems using supersingular elliptic curves, we pay special attention to the case where n is composite. This allows us to represent the function field over different base fields. Practical experiments appear to show that a function field over F3 gives the best results.

Robert Granger, D. Page, M. Stam (2004)A Comparison of CEILIDH and XTR, In: Algorithmic Number Theory3076pp. 235-249 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

We give a comparison of the performance of the recently proposed torus-based public key cryptosystem CEILIDH, and XTR. Underpinning both systems is the mathematics of the two dimensional algebraic torus T6(Fp). However, while they both attain the same discrete logarithm security and each achieve a compression factor of three for all data transmissions, the arithmetic performed in each is fundamentally different. In its inception, the designers of CEILIDH were reluctant to claim it offers any particular advantages over XTR other than its exact compression and decompression technique. From both an algorithmic and arithmetic perspective, we develop an efficient version of CEILIDH and show that while it seems bound to be inherently slower than XTR, the difference in performance is much smaller than what one might infer from the original description. Also, thanks to CEILIDH’s simple group law, it provides a greater flexibility for applications, and may thus be considered a worthwhile alternative to XTR.

Robert Granger (2003)Estimates for Discrete Logarithm Computations in Finite Fields of Small Characteristic, In: Cryptography and Coding2898pp. 190-206 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

We give estimates for the running-time of the function field sieve (FFS) to compute discrete logarithms in F×pn for small p. Specifically, we obtain sharp probability estimates that allow us to select optimal parameters in cases of cryptographic interest, without appealing to the heuristics commonly relied upon in an asymptotic analysis. We also give evidence that for any fixed field size some may be weaker than others of a different characteristic or field representation, and compare the relative difficulty of computing discrete logarithms via the FFS in such cases.

Robert Granger, Thorsten Kleinjung, Jens Zumbrägel (2017)On the discrete logarithm problem in finite fields of fixed characteristic, In: Transactions of the American Mathematical Society370(5)pp. 3129-3145 American Mathematical Society

For q a prime power, the discrete logarithm problem (DLP) in Fq consists in finding, for any g ∈ F × q and h ∈ hgi, an integer x such that g x = h. We present an algorithm for computing discrete logarithms with which we prove that for each prime p there exist infinitely many explicit extension fields Fpn in which the DLP can be solved in expected quasi-polynomial time. Furthermore, subject to a conjecture on the existence of irreducible polynomials of a certain form, the algorithm solves the DLP in all extensions Fpn in expected quasi-polynomial time.

Robert Granger (2010)On the Static Diffie-Hellman Problem on Elliptic Curves over Extension Fields, In: Advances in Cryptology - ASIACRYPT 20106477pp. 283-302 International Association for Cryptologic Research

We show that for any elliptic curve E(Fqn ), if an adversary has access to a Static Diffie-Hellman Problem (Static DHP) oracle, then by making O(q1− 1/n+1) Static DHP oracle queries during an initial learning phase, for fixed n > 1 and q → ∞ the adversary can solve any further instance of the Static DHP in heuristic time O˜(q1− 1/n+1). Our proposal also solves the Delayed Target DHP as defined by Freeman, and naturally extends to provide algorithms for solving the Delayed Target DLP, the One-More DHP and One-More DLP, as studied by Koblitz and Menezes in the context of Jacobians of hyperelliptic curves of small genus. We also argue that for any group in which index calculus can be effectively applied, the above problems have a natural relationship, and will always be easier than the DLP. While practical only for very small n, our algorithm reduces the security provided by the elliptic curves defined over Fp2 and Fp4 proposed by Galbraith, Lin and Scott at EUROCRYPT 2009, should they be used in any protocol where a user can be made to act as a proxy Static DHP oracle, or if used in protocols whose security is related to any of the above problems.

R. Granger, D. Page, M. Stam (2005)Hardware and Software Normal Basis Arithmetic for Pairing-Based Cryptography in Characteristic Three, In: IEEE Transactions on Computers54(7)pp. 852-860 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Although identity-based cryptography offers a number of functional advantages over conventional public key methods, the computational costs are significantly greater. The dominant part of this cost is the Tate pairing, which, in characteristic three, is best computed using the algorithm of Duursma and Lee. However, in hardware and constrained environments, this algorithm is unattractive since it requires online computation of cube roots or enough storage space to precompute required results. We examine the use of normal basis arithmetic in characteristic three in an attempt to get the best of both worlds: an efficient method for computing the Tate pairing that requires no precomputation and that may also be implemented in hardware to accelerate devices such as smart-cards.

Marten van Dijk, Robert Granger, Dan Page, Karl Rubin, Alice Silverberg, Martijn Stam, David Woodruff (2005)Practical Cryptography in High Dimensional Tori, In: Advances in Cryptology – EUROCRYPT 20053494pp. 234-250 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

At Crypto 2004, van Dijk and Woodruff introduced a new way of using the algebraic tori Tn in cryptography, and obtained an asymptotically optimal n/φ(n) savings in bandwidth and storage for a number of cryptographic applications. However, the computational requirements of compression and decompression in their scheme were impractical, and it was left open to reduce them to a practical level. We give a new method that compresses orders of magnitude faster than the original, while also speeding up the decompression and improving on the compression factor (by a constant term). Further, we give the first efficient implementation that uses T30, compare its performance to XTR, CEILIDH, and ECC, and present new applications. Our methods achieve better compression than XTR and CEILIDH for the compression of as few as two group elements. This allows us to apply our results to ElGamal encryption with a small message domain to obtain ciphertexts that are 10% smaller than in previous schemes.

R. Granger, F. Hess, R. Oyono, N. Thériault, F. Vercauteren (2007)Ate Pairing on Hyperelliptic Curves, In: Advances in Cryptology - EUROCRYPT 20074515pp. 430-447 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

In this paper we show that the Ate pairing, originally defined for elliptic curves, generalises to hyperelliptic curves and in fact to arbitrary algebraic curves. It has the following surprising properties: The loop length in Miller’s algorithm can be up to g times shorter than for the Tate pairing, with g the genus of the curve, and the pairing is automatically reduced, i.e. no final exponentiation is needed.

Robert Granger, Michael Scott (2010)Faster Squaring in the Cyclotomic Subgroup of Sixth Degree Extensions, In: Public Key Cryptography – PKC 20106056pp. 209-223 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

This paper describes an extremely efficient squaring operation in the so-called ‘cyclotomic subgroup’ of F× q6 , for q ≡ 1 mod 6. Our result arises from considering the Weil restriction of scalars of this group from Fq6 to Fq2 , and provides efficiency improvements for both pairing-based and torus-based cryptographic protocols. In particular we argue that such fields are ideally suited for the latter when the field characteristic satisfies p ≡ 1 (mod 6), and since torus-based techniques can be applied to the former, we present a compelling argument for the adoption of a single approach to efficient field arithmetic for pairing-based cryptography.

Faruk Göloğlu, Robert Granger, Gary McGuire, Jens Zumbrägel (2013)On the Function Field Sieve and the Impact of Higher Splitting Probabilities, In: Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO 20138043pp. 109-128 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

In this paper we propose a binary field variant of the JouxLercier medium-sized Function Field Sieve, which results not only in complexities as low as Lqn (1/3,(4/9)1/3) for computing arbitrary logarithms, but also in an heuristic polynomial time algorithm for finding the discrete logarithms of degree one and two elements when the field has a subfield of an appropriate size. To illustrate the efficiency of the method, we have successfully solved the DLP in the finite fields with 21971 and 23164 elements, setting a record for binary fields.

Robert Granger, D. Page, N. P. Smart (2006)High Security Pairing-Based Cryptography Revisited, In: Algorithmic Number Theory4076pp. 480-494 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

The security and performance of pairing based cryptography has provoked a large volume of research, in part because of the exciting new cryptographic schemes that it underpins. We re-examine how one should implement pairings over ordinary elliptic curves for various practical levels of security. We conclude, contrary to prior work, that the Tate pairing is more efficient than the Weil pairing for all such security levels. This is achieved by using efficient exponentiation techniques in the cyclotomic subgroup backed by efficient squaring routines within the same subgroup.

Robert Granger (2017)Indiscreet discrete logarithms, In: Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde5/18(3)pp. 176-183 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum

In 2013 and 2014 a revolution took place in the understanding of the discrete logarithm problem (DLP) in finite fields of small characteristic. Consequently, many cryptosystems based on cryptographic pairings were rendered completely insecure, which serves as a valuable reminder that long-studied so-called hard problems may turn out to be far easier than initially believed. In this article, Robert Granger gives an overview of the surprisingly simple ideas behind some of the breakthroughs and the many computational records that have so far resulted from them.

Robert Granger (2015)Could, or should, the ancient Greeks have discovered the Lucas-Lehmer test?, In: The Mathematical Gazette97(539)pp. 242-255 The Mathematical Association

The Lucas-Lehmer (LL) test is the most efficient known for testing the primality of Mersenne numbers, i.e. the integers Ml = 2l − 1, for l ≥ 1. The Mersenne numbers are so-called in honour of the French scholar Marin Mersenne (1588-1648), who in 1644 published a list of exponents l ≤ 257 which he conjectured produced all and only those Ml which are prime, for l in this range, namely l = 2,3,5,7, 13, 17, 19,31,67, 127 and 257. Mersenne's list turned out to be incorrect, omitting the prime-producing l = 61, 89 and 107 and including the composite-producing l = 67 and 257, although this was not finally confirmed until 1947, using both the LL test and contemporary mechanical calculators.

Robert Granger, Andrew Moss (2013)Generalised Mersenne numbers revisited, In: Mathematics of Computation82(284)pp. 2389-2420 American Mathematical Society

Generalised Mersenne Numbers (GMNs) were defined by Solinas in 1999 and feature in the NIST (FIPS 186-2) and SECG standards for use in elliptic curve cryptography. Their form is such that modular reduction is extremely efficient, thus making them an attractive choice for modular multiplication implementation. However, the issue of residue multiplication efficiency seems to have been overlooked. Asymptotically, using a cyclic rather than a linear convolution, residue multiplication modulo a Mersenne number is twice as fast as integer multiplication; this property does not hold for prime GMNs, unless they are of Mersenne's form. In this work we exploit an alternative generalisation of Mersenne numbers for which an analogue of the above property -- and hence the same efficiency ratio -- holds, even at bitlengths for which schoolbook multiplication is optimal, while also maintaining very efficient reduction. Moreover, our proposed primes are abundant at any bitlength, whereas GMNs are extremely rare. Our multiplication and reduction algorithms can also be easily parallelised, making our arithmetic particularly suitable for hardware implementation. Furthermore, the field representation we propose also naturally protects against side-channel attacks, including timing attacks, simple power analysis and differential power analysis, which is essential in many cryptographic scenarios, in constrast to GMNs.

Robert Granger, Michael Scott (2015)Faster ECC over F2521-1, In: Jonathan Katz (eds.), Public-Key Cryptography -- PKC 20159020pp. 539-553 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

In this paper we present a new multiplication algorithm for residues modulo the Mersenne prime 2521 − 1. Using this approach, on an Intel Haswell Core i7-4770, constant-time variable-base scalar multiplication on NIST’s (and SECG’s) curve P-521 requires 1,108,000 cycles, while on the recently proposed Edwards curve E-521 it requires just 943,000 cycles. As a comparison, on the same architecture openSSL’s ECDH speed test for curve P-521 requires 1,319,000 cycles. Furthermore, our code was written entirely in C and so is robust across different platforms. The basic observation behind these speedups is that the form of the modulus allows one to multiply residues with as few word-by-word multiplications as is needed for squaring, while incurring very little overhead from extra additions, in contrast to the usual Karatsuba methods

Faruk Göloğlu, Robert Granger, Gary McGuire, Jens Zumbrägel (2014)Solving a 6120-bit DLP on a Desktop Computer, In: Selected Areas in Cryptography -- SAC 20138282pp. 136-152 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

In this paper we show how some recent ideas regarding the discrete logarithm problem (DLP) in finite fields of small characteristic may be applied to compute logarithms in some very large fields extremely efficiently. By combining the polynomial time relation generation from the authors’ CRYPTO 2013 paper, an improved degree two elimination technique, and an analogue of Joux’s recent small-degree elimination method, we solved a DLP in the record-sized finite field of 26120 elements, using just a single core-month. Relative to the previous record set by Joux in the field of 24080 elements, this represents a 50 % increase in the bitlength, using just 5 % of the core-hours. We also show that for the fields considered, the parameters for Joux’s LQ(1/4 + o(1)) algorithm may be optimised to produce an LQ(1/4) algorithm.

Robert Granger, Thorsten Kleinjung, Jens Zumbrägel (2014)Breaking '128-bit Secure' Supersingular Binary Curves, In: Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO 20148617pp. 126-145 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

In late 2012 and early 2013 the discrete logarithm problem (DLP) in finite fields of small characteristic underwent a dramatic series of breakthroughs, culminating in a heuristic quasi-polynomial time algorithm, due to Barbulescu, Gaudry, Joux and Thomé. Using these developments, Adj, Menezes, Oliveira and Rodríguez-Henríquez analysed the concrete security of the DLP, as it arises from pairings on (the Jacobians of) various genus one and two supersingular curves in the literature, which were originally thought to be 128-bit secure. In particular, they suggested that the new algorithms have no impact on the security of a genus one curve over F21223 , and reduce the security of a genus two curve over F2367 to 94.6 bits. In this paper we propose a new field representation and efficient general descent principles which together make the new techniques far more practical. Indeed, at the ‘128-bit security level’ our analysis shows that the aforementioned genus one curve has approximately 59 bits of security, and we report a total break of the genus two curve

R. Granger, D. Page, M. Stam (2006)On Small Characteristic Algebraic Tori in Pairing-Based Cryptography, In: LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics9pp. 64-85 London Mathematical Society

The value of the Tate pairing on an elliptic curve over a finite field may be viewed as an element of an algebraic torus. Using this simple observation, we transfer techniques recently developed for torus-based cryptography to pairing-based cryptography, resulting in more efficient computations, and lower bandwidth requirements. To illustrate the efficacy of this approach, we apply the method to pairings on supersingular elliptic curves in characteristic three.

Robert Granger, F. Vercauteren (2019)On the Discrete Logarithm Problem on Algebraic Tori, In: Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO 20053621pp. 66-85 Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

Using a recent idea of Gaudry and exploiting rational representations of algebraic tori, we present an index calculus type algorithm for solving the discrete logarithm problem that works directly in these groups. Using a prototype implementation, we obtain practical upper bounds for the difficulty of solving the DLP in the tori T2(Fpm) and T6(Fpm) for various p and m. Our results do not affect the security of the cryptosystems LUC, XTR, or CEILIDH over prime fields. However, the practical efficiency of our method against other methods needs further examining, for certain choices of p and m in regions of cryptographic interest.