Quantum Key Distribution: a gentle introduction

Wednesday 29th March 2017, 6:30 pm.

Speaker: Prof Alan Woodward, University of Surrey

Venue: Room 4.31, University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB.

This event is free of charge and open to all. Registration required for this event.

Refreshments and networking from 6:00 pm.


The potential arrival of quantum computers poses a threat to the most common public key encryption system in use today. However, quantum principles can be employed to create systems that allow theoretically secure key exchange schemes. In this talk we give a gentle introduction to how and why quantum key distribution works, plus we explore some of the implementation difficulties and how they affect the security of the schemes. Practical schemes are described and some of the exciting, near developments in the field are described. The talk hopes to equip the audience to consider the question of whether quantum based encryption schemes are the answer to the threat posed by quantum computers.

About the speaker


Alan began as a physicist. However, he developed an interest in computing early on through signal processing for gamma ray burst detectors, and so switched to engineering after his BSc. His post graduate research at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR)University of Southampton, was in signal processing and novel methods of noise cancellation, both passive and active.

After leaving the ISVR Alan worked for the UK government for many years. He has particular expertise in, and continues to conduct research into, cyber security, covert communications, forensic computing and image/signal processing. Alan has been involved in some of the most significant advances in computer technology which have seen him elected as a Fellow and chartered member of the British Computer SocietyInstitute of Physics and the Royal Statistical Society.

In addition to his academic and government work, Alan has run businesses focussed on various aspects of Information Technology (IT). In 2000 Alan was pivotal in the flotation of Charteris plc on the London Stock Exchange. He remained a director until 2008 at which point he began to focus back on his academic interests. Alan continues to be a director on businesses involved in IT as well as advising them organisations such as Europol. He is also Associate Editor of The Journal of Cyber Security Technology, and The Journal of Information Security & Applications. 

Although Alan has been at the leading edge of technology development for many years, he particularly enjoys trying to explain ideas he has been researching.  He not only publishes in the academic and trade journals but has articles in the national press and comments on TV and radio.

Alan is very active on social media and he can be reached at the following:

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