The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Category: News

Fall 2011 Update

Some of you reading this may be aware that I had planned to offer this first-year writing seminar again this fall. As much as I was looking forward to doing so, I’ve had to cancel the fall 2011 offering of this course. A few weeks ago, the director of the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching announced she was stepping down to take a position at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. I was appointed Acting Director of the center starting August 1st. Although this is a great opportunity for me, the demands on my time of the acting directorship this fall will be significant, and I didn’t see a way I could teach the cryptography course at any level of effectiveness.

I may offer the course in the spring, however. I certainly have lots of ideas for improving the course, and I’ll continue to post news items and other relevant resources via Delicious and the Facebook page. So if you’re interested in cryptography, look for those links. And if you’re a first-year Vanderbilt student who’s really interested in this course happening in the spring, please let me know!

Image: “Layers, Leaves, and Sun,” by me

Update on the BlackBerry-in-India Situation

With five days to go until the August 31st deadline set by India, it looks like Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry, are sitting down to negotiate. Here’s the latest news from the BBC on this situation. Notice that BlackBerry claims not to have a “master key” that would enable them to decipher any encrypted message sent by their users. If this is true, the strong encryption that BlackBerry uses might make it hard for the Indian authorities to do anything with any data they might be given.

Image: “SXSW 2007” by Flickr user Laughing Squid, Creative Commons licensed

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