Pecha Kucha

Before I share a few Pecha Kucha resources, here's the list of possible titles you generated for blog posts, short papers, or presentations:

  • Turning the Tide of WW2 Cryptography
  • Turing the Mathematics of Cryptonomicon
  • The Beautiful Mind of Lawrence Waterhouse
  • Ending Engima
  • Colors of the Rainbow: Japanese Ciphers of WW2
  • When You Can Go Too Far and Not Far Enough: Ordo and Keys
  • Only as Strong as the Weakest Link
  • Data Havens for Fun and Profit
  • Learning Modular Arithmetic in Three Pages or Less
  • Taking One for the Team: Detachment 2702’s Contribution to WW2
  • Lawrence Waterhouse: A Different View on Everything
  • The Psychology of Bobby Shaftoe
  • How Mathematicians Think
  • The Awesomeness of Bletchley Park
  • When Bits Become Bytes

(For the record, four of those suggestions are mine.)

Now for some Pecha Kucha resources. First, the Pecha Kucha organization, which coordinates Pecha Kucha nights all around the world, including Nashville. The organization has used their network in creative ways to aid in disaster recovery efforts, including the 2011 Japan earthquake.

Here's the sample Pecha Kucha presentation I shared, by the University of British Columbia's Tegan Adams:

For more examples, check out Pecha Kucha Atlanta's website, which features lots and lots.

Finally, if you forget how to pronounce Pecha Kucha, here's a Muppets-themed reminder.

Image: "pecha kucha night book," Brandon Shigeta, Flickr (CC)

Adobe's San José Semaphore Challenge

Adobe, the company responsible for Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, and many other products, has launched a codebreaking challenge you might find interesting. Here's the email they sent me about it:

Adobe first launched the San José Semaphore back in 2006. This piece of public art – created as a part of its long-term headquarter site development in San Jose, Calif. – comprises four 10-foot high digitally displayed disks that transmit a code as they continue to change their rotation. Starting at twilight last night, they relaunched a newly commissioned display with a new challenge to the public, including those in the cryptology community such as yourself, to be the first to decode the new transmission. The first person to successfully crack the code wins a one year Adobe Creative Cloud membership, bragging rights, and acknowledgment on the Adobe website ( Get all of the details on the official contest page and check out the news here.

Security vs. Privacy in Little Brother

As promised, here's a photo of the debate map you constructed during class today. Click on the image to see a larger version; it should be large enough to read the contents of the Post-it notes. Recall that arguments in favor of security were written on the yellow-green notes, and arguments in favor of privacy on the red notes.

Also, here are a few links relevant to today's conversation:

Unsolved Mysteries Resources

And some resources from our class on unsolved mysteries last week...

Babbage and Lovelace Resources

As promised, some links about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace...

And here's my Prezi showing Babbage's technique for breaking the Vigenere cipher.

The Math of Futurama, September 25th, 6pm

The math department's undergraduate seminar kicks off this week, with a talk by grad student Michael Hull on some of the mathematics seen in the television show Futurama. These talks are designed to be interesting and accessible to any student, regardless of major. The Futurama talk will be at 6pm on Tuesday, September 25th, in Stevenson Center 1206. Pizza and sodas will be provided.  Here's the blurb:

You may be familiar with the show Futurama, but did you know that the show contains a plethora of math references hidden in the background? Many of these references require quite a bit of mathematical training to even notice. We will show some examples of this from the show and explain a bit of the mathematical background behind what is going on. Topics will include cryptography, number theory, computer science, group theory, and more!

Creative Commons, Implications of the Telgraph

Here are few resources on the subject of the Creative Commons:

And here's a diagram showing some of the implications for cryptography of the speed of communication enabled by the telegraph:

Let's say that A, a member of the Black Team, is sending an encrypted message to B, also on the Black Team, in another city. The White Team consists of C, who intercepts the ciphertext; D, who decrypts the ciphertext; and E, who is in the same city as B and will act on the decrypted message to disrupt whatever B is doing.

If communication travels at the speed of a horse and if D isn't located near C or E, then the White Team will take a while to get the decrypted message in the hands of E, who can act on it. If, however, communication is virtually instantaneous, then the only thing slowing the White Team down is the time it takes D to decrypt the message. This increases the need for the Black Team to use strong encryption.

However, if C is capable of decrypting the message and can communicate directly with E, then the speed of communication doesn't matter as much. The only thing slowing the White Team down in that case, regardless of the speed of communication, is the time it takes to decrypt the message. The time between B receiving the plaintext and E receiving the plaintext will be equal to the amount of time it takes C to decrypt the message. Strong encryption is still important, but not more important because of the faster communication.

Zimmerman, BlackBerry, and Poem Codes

Here are the visuals for three presentations I've given in the course thus far. Hope they're helpful!