This thesis studies the implications of using public key cryptographic primitives that are based in, or map to, the multiplicative group of finite fields with small extension degree. A central observation is that the multiplicative group of extension fields essentially decomposes as a product of algebraic tori, whose properties allow for improved communication efficiency.
Part I of this thesis is concerned with the constructive implications of this idea. Firstly, algorithms are developed for the efficient implementation of torus-based cryptosystems and their performance compared with previous work. It is then shown how to apply these methods to operations required in low characteristic pairing-based cryptography. Finally, practical schemes for high-dimensional tori are discussed. Highly optimised implementations and benchmark timings are provided for each of these systems.
Part II addresses the security of the schemes presented in Part I, i.e., the hardness of the discrete logarithm problem. Firstly, an heuristic analysis of the effectiveness of the Function Field Sieve in small characteristic is given. Next presented is an implementation of this algorithm for characteristic three fields used in pairing-based cryptography. Finally, a new index calculus algorithm for solving the discrete logarithm problem on algebraic tori is described and analysed.