The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Category: Resources Page 1 of 6

Arguments and Evidence

Here's that schematic diagram of a typical argumentative essay that I shared in class yesterday, for your reference.

Little Brother Debate Map

Here's the security vs. privacy debate map we constructed in class on Monday. Click on the image to zoom in.

Frequency Analysis Resources

Here are some Excel files we'll use in class today as we discuss frequency analysis.

What We Learned from Snowden

  1. With a top-secret court order, the NSA collected the telephone records from millions of Verizon customers. — June 6, 2013
  2. The NSA accessed and collected data through back doors into US internet companies such as Google and Facebook with a program called Prism. — June 7, 2013
  3. Britain's GCHQ tapped fiber-optic cables to collect and store global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories, and calls, and then shares the data with the NSA. — June 21, 2013
  4. Using a program called Fairview, the NSA intercepted internet and phone-call data of Brazilian citizens. — July 6, 2013
  5. NSA analysts, using the XKeyscore program, could search through enormous databases of emails, online chats, and browsing histories of targets. — July 31, 2013
  6. Seven of the world's leading telecommunications companies provided GCHQ with secret, unlimited access to their network of undersea cables. — August 2, 2013
  7. The NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, according to an internal audit. — August 15, 2013
  8. The NSA had the ability to access user data for most major smartphones on the market, including Apple iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Google Android phones. — September 7, 2013
  9. The NSA used metadata augmented with other data from public, commercial, and other sources to create sophisticated graphs that map Americans' social connections. — September 28, 2013
  10. The NSA stored a massive amount of internet metadata from internet users, regardless of whether they are being targeted, for up to one year in a database called Marina. — September 30, 2013
  11. The NSA and GCHQ worked together to compromise the anonymous web-browsing Tor network. — October 4, 2013
  12. The NSA tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. — October 23, 2013

And much more:

Arguments and Evidence

Here's the visual I showed today during class for structuring an argumentative essay. It's just a model, but I think it's useful for thinking about structure.

Security vs. Privacy Debate Map

For your reference, here's a photo of the security vs. privacy debate map we constructed in class on Monday. Click on the image for a better view.

Frequency Analysis Resources

Here are some Excel files we'll use in class today as we discuss frequency analysis.


I'm excited to teach "Cryptography: The History and Mathematics of Codes and Ciphers" again this fall. It's my favorite course to teach, and I hope you find it interesting, too.

Here's a copy of the Fall 2018 syllabus.  Please read this before class on Friday, when we'll talk about various aspects of the course and I'll take your questions on the syllabus.

On the Contact page, you'll find directions to my office, which you'll need for the "get to know you meetings" you signed up for next week. Be sure to give yourself a few extra minutes to find my office the first time, and feel free to call the Center for Teaching (where I work) if you get lost: 615-322-7290.

I shared a few news stories in class yesterday. I'll link to them here, in case you want to read them, but I'll note that they're also saved in our Diigo bookmark group. Be sure to request access to that group, as outlined in the course syllabus.

I'll also remind you that you should read the first chapter in our textbook, The Code Book by Simon Singh, before class on Monday. We'll talk about other upcoming assignments during class on Friday.

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

The other day in class, I asked you to respond to this short, terrible play:

  • Teen: “If my dad monitored my Instagram, that would mean he doesn’t trust me.”
  • Dad: “If you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?”

First, I asked you to role play the teenager. How might you respond to the dad? Here's a capture of what you suggested.

Then, I asked you to role play the parent. Why might a parent want to monitor their teenager's social media use? We broke out the Post-it notes for this.

You did a great job exploring a position that most of you (it seemed) did not initially agree with. Keep this in mind when you're writing argumentative essays in the future. To make a compelling case, you have to take the other side’s perspective seriously, understand it, and respond to it.

World War II Cryptography

In case they're helpful, here are my sketchnotes from our guest speaker, history professor Michael Bess, earlier in the week.

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