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The First SHA-3 Candidate Conference will be held at K.U. Leuven, Belgium, following the 16th International Workshop on Fast Software Encryption (FSE 2009) which is scheduled for February 22-25, 2009. The purpose of the SHA-3 Conference is to allow the submitters of the first round candidates to present their algorithms, and for NIST to discuss the way forward with the competition.
It appears that the number of accepted submissions will considerably exceed the number that NIST and the community can analyze thoroughly in a reasonable time period. NIST is considering ways to involve the cryptographic community in quickly reducing the number of submissions to a more manageable number. The process and criteria for this selection will be a major topic of this conference.