Can ternary computing improve information assurance?

Bertrand Cambou, Paul G. Flikkema, James Palmer, Donald Telesca, Christopher Philabaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Modern computer microarchitectures build on well-established foundations that have encouraged a pattern of computational homogeneity that many cyberattacks depend on. We suggest that balanced ternary logic can be valuable to Internet of Things (IoT) security, authentication of connected vehicles, as well as hardware and software assurance, and have developed a ternary encryption scheme between a computer and smartcard based on public key exchange through non-secure communication channels to demonstrate the value of balanced ternary systems. The concurrent generation of private keys by the computer and the smartcard uses ternary schemes and cryptographic primitives such as ternary physical unclonable functions. While general purpose ternary computers have not succeeded in general use, heterogeneous computing systems with small ternary computing units dedicated to cryptographic functions have the potential to improve information assurance, and may also be designed to execute binary legacy codes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Authentication
  • Cryptography
  • Hardware security
  • Information assurance
  • Tamper-resistant designs
  • Ternary computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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