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Early lifeEdit

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

Needham began his undergraduate studies at St John's College, Cambridge in 1953, graduating with a B.A. in 1956 in mathematics and philosophy.[2] 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.[3][4]

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.[5]

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

Personal lifeEdit

Needham married Karen Spärck Jones in 1958. Needham died of cancer in March 2003 at his home in Willingham, Cambridgeshire.[6]

Roger Needham AwardEdit

The British Computer Society, in 2004, established an annual Roger Needham Award in Needham's honour.[7]

EuroSys Roger Needham PhD AwardEdit

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 alsoEdit


  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. ^ Herbert, Andrew James, "Needham, Roger Michael (1935–2003)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, March 2009; online edition, January 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2018 (subscription required)
  3. ^ Wilkes, M. V. Time-Sharing Computer Systems. American Elsevier, New York, (1968).
  4. ^ Schofield, Jack (10 March 2003). "Roger Needham". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "ACM Fellow Roger Needham Dies at 62". Pressroom. ACM. March 7, 2003.
  6. ^ Peterson, Kim (6 March 2003). "Microsoft's Needham dies from cancer". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  7. ^ Roger Needham Lecture at the British Computer Society website

External linksEdit