Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Expository Essay - The Playfair Cipher #2

Here's Tyler's take on the Playfair cipher [PDF].

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1 Comment

  1. Erin Baldwin

    I wrote my paper on the same cipher, the Playfair cipher, but I found it very interesting that we approached the topic from very different perspectives. Our introductions and the general context that we gave for the code were unique. I thought your explanation of the code was very well done. It was easy to follow and could have been easily duplicated by the reader, were he or she trying to implement the code themselves. I also liked that you gave a small biography on Charles Wheatstone that focused on his life before his entrance into the field of cryptology. It was easy to see were his qualifications in the field came from and how his background led him to being such a brilliant cryptographer.
    The parallels that you drew between the Vigenere cipher and the Playfair cipher was one of the more interesting points of the paper. I was very intrigued by your comment on the fact that they were equally difficult to break and this was what moved the Playfair cipher into obscurity in some ways. I think you could also have drawn connections to the Enigma or other mechanized ciphers of World War II, during which the Playfair was still in use. This would have shown how the cipher breached both global conflicts and was in some ways the bridge between the mono- and polyalphabetic ciphers and the popular cipher machines. As far as lingering questions, I could have used some more explanation of the computer deciphering method described. I think I was able to comprehend the idea as a whole, but it required some rereading. Further exploration of this topic specifically would have been helpful.
    Overall I really liked this paper. It was well-rounded and explored an excellent topic choice!

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