The Conference for Failed Approaches and Insightful Losses in Cryptology
Failing better since 2019
Our Theme Song
Our Distinguished Failure Awards
At CFAIL 2019, we awarded Victor Miller the distinguished Failure to Publish award for his foundational work in pairings. This work was initially rejected for publication and long cited by cryptographers as an "unpublished manuscript." It presented the first polynomial-time algorithm for computing pairings on elliptic curves, hence spawning the subfield of "bilinear map" cryptography, an incredibly active and fruitful research area.
We believe that failure plays a crucial role in the progress of scientific research. Cryptology as a discipline is particularly well-equipped to take full advantage of failure. A failure to break a cryptographic system is a positive result for its security, and a failure to secure a cryptographic system can be a positive result for cryptanalysis, or at least yield new insights relevant to testing or threat-modeling.
If researchers openly share their failures as well as their successes, the insights can be re-purposed, and duplication of efforts can be avoided. Since the path to research success is almost never straightforward and direct, sharing failures also provices a more complete and realistic context for understanding the end products of research.
CFAIL is the first conference dedicated to disseminating insightful failures of the cryptology research community. It is an annual recurring event, and information about past and future events will be available on these pages as it becomes available. For any questions, you may contact the general chair, Allison Bishop, at
Victor Miller (right) graciously accepting his award at CFAIL 2019. Presumably he had just said something very funny.