Rivest earned a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Yale University in 1969, and a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1974. He is a co-author of Introduction to Algorithms (also known as CLRS), a standard textbook on algorithms, with Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson and Clifford Stein. He is a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the Theory of Computation Group, and a founder of its Cryptography and Information Security Group.
He was also a founder of RSA Data Security (now merged with Security Dynamics to form RSA Security), Verisign, and of Peppercoin. Professor Rivest has research interests in cryptography, computer and network security, and algorithms.