The-Code-Book-Singh-Simon-9780385495325As I mentioned in class, you'll need to read the first chapter of The Code Book for Monday. In case you'd like a little guidance for your reading or would like to prepare for Monday's discussion, here are a few questions about Chapter 1 you might consider. I'm not expecting you to answer these questions (on the blog or in writing), I'm just providing them as a resource.

  1. On page 41, Singh writes, “The cipher of Mary Queen of Scots clearly demonstrates that a weak encryption can be worse than no encryption at all.”  What does Singh mean by this and what does it imply for those who would attempt to keep their communications secret through cryptography?
  2. Most of the examples of cryptography in Chapter 1 were associated with well-resourced people—monarchs, military leaders, etc.  Is that because those are the only examples that have survived or is that because cryptography and cryptography development is dependent on exceptional resources?  If the latter, do you think that has changed over time?  What implications does that have for today’s uses of cryptography?
  3. Given that Singh was presumably trying to write an interesting and engaging book, why do you think he chose these examples for Chapter 1 instead of other potential examples of classical cryptography?