Alice and Bob  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The names Alice and Bob are two commonly used placeholder names. They are used for archetypal characters in fields such as cryptography and physics. The names are used for convenience; for example, "Alice sends a message to Bob encrypted with his public key" is easier to follow than "Party A sends a message to Party B encrypted by Party B's public key." Following the alphabet, the specific names have evolved into common parlance within these fields—helping technical topics to be explained in a more understandable fashion.

In cryptography and computer security, there are a number of widely used names for the participants in discussions and presentations about various protocols. The names are conventional, somewhat self-suggestive, sometimes humorous, and effectively act as metasyntactic variables.

In typical implementations of these protocols, it is understood that the actions attributed to characters such as Alice or Bob need not always be carried out by human parties directly, but also by a trusted automated agent (such as a computer program) on their behalf. Perhaps because Alice's and Bob's distinct genders permit the use of gender-specific pronouns to reduce verbosity while preventing an increase in ambiguity, there has been little tendency to introduce inanimate parties so that neuter pronouns could refer to them.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Alice and Bob" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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