We are ex-NSA crypto/mathematicians working to help keep the internet secure before quantum computers render most crypto obsolete!
Quantum computing is a completely different paradigm from classical computing, where weird quantum properties are combined with traditional boolean logic to create something entirely new. There has long been much doubt about whether it was even possible to build one large enough to solve practical problems. But when something is labeled "impossible", of course many physicists, engineers, and mathematicians eagerly respond with "Hold my beer!". QCs have an immense potential to make a global impact (for the better!) by solving some of the world's most difficult computational problems, but they would also crush the math problems underpinning much of today's internet security, presenting an unprecedented challenge to cryptography researchers to develop and standardize new quantum-resistant primitives for post-quantum internet.
We are mathematicians trained in crypto at NSA, and we worked there for over 10 years. For the past year or so we've been at a small crypto sw/hw company specializing in working on a post-quantum research effort, and we've been reading a broad spectrum of the current research. We have a few other co-workers that will likely also chime in at some point.
Our backgrounds: Rino (/u/rabinabo) is originally from Miami, FL, and of Cuban descent. He went to MIT for a Bachelor's in math, then UCSD for his PhD in math. He started at NSA with little programming experience, but he quickly learned over his 11 years there, obtaining a Master's in Computer Science at the Hopkins night school. Now he works at a small company on this post-quantum research.
John (/u/john31415926) graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Mathematics. After graduation, he went to work for the NSA as an applied research mathematician. He spent 10 years doing cryptanalysis of things. He currently works as a consultant doing crypto development in the cable industry. His favorite editor is Emacs and favorite language is Python.
Disclaimer: We are bound by lifetime obligations, so expect very limited responses about our time at NSA unless you're willing to wait a few weeks for a response from pre-pub review (seriously, I'm joking, we don't want to go through that hassle).
Edit to add: Thanks for all the great questions, everyone! We're both pretty beat, and besides, our boss told us to get some work done! :-) If I have a little time later, I'll try to post a few more answers.
I'm sorry we missed some of the higher ranked questions, but I'll try to post answers to most of the questions. Just know that it may take me a while to get to them. Seriously, you guys are taking a toll on my daily dosage of cat gifs.