I enjoyed getting to know you a bit this morning. Don’t forget your meetings with me today and tomorrow! If you’ve forgotten the time of your meeting, just email me and ask. Here are some directions to my office. Just ask for me at the reception desk.

We brainstormed some examples of codes and ciphers during class, and I took notes. Here’s our list of examples:

  • Sherlock Holmes – solves mysteries, uses deduction
  • The Windtalkers – WW2, Navajo code talkers
  • Enigma Machine – German code machine, 92 septillion-ish settings
  • Binary code
  • Morse code – actually an alphabet (according to the book)
  • A Beautiful Mind – John Nash, code-breaker for the CIA? NSA?, also broke codes that existed only in his mind
  • Smoke signals – code
  • [Improv] Boat flag signals – also code
  • [Improv] Sign language – letters and words
  • Vigenere Cipher – 2nd generation cipher
  • Julius Caesar – Caesar shift
  • Al-Kindi – frequency analysis
  • Charles Babbage – broke the Vigenere, also invented the cowcatcher
  • National Treasure – Nic Cage’s finest work
  • The Da Vinci Code’s cryptex – not a code or cipher, but involved a riddle
  • “So dark the con of man” – transposition cipher / anagram

The plaintext from today’s example comes from this blog post on Forbes about the Leo Marks poem read at Chelsea’s wedding, a poem once used as part of a poem code by Marks while he worked at the Special Operations Executive (a British spy agency) during World War II.

You may have noticed that my Excel file didn’t do a perfect job deciphering the quote about the Chelsea Clinton wedding. After class, I found two bugs in the file. One was that I had enciphered a couple of apostrophes as “F” instead of leaving them as punctuation. The other was that the Excel file didn’t actually include the plaintext “z” in its calculations! I’ve used this file many times, but this must have been the first time I’ve had a “z” in a piece of plaintext. In this case, it was the last name of Chelsea Clinton’s new husband, Marc Mezvinky. Here’s the updated Excel file.

The visuals I used while describing the Zimmerman Telegram and BlackBerry encryption examples were created in a program called Prezi. One advantage of Prezi: I can embed it here on the blog. See below.

Finally, don’t forget to read Chapter 1 in the Singh book for Tuesday and (optionally, but strongly encouraged) respond to the pre-class reading questions here on the blog for Tuesday.