The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: navajo code talkeres

The Allies’ Resource Allocation

In his blog post, the student argued that besides the overconfidence of the German, the strength of the Allies’ code itself contributed to the breaking of the Enigma code. I thought this was a very interesting viewpoint and never considered this before. The surprising usage of the Navajo language as military encryption proved to be unbreakable, thus allowing the Allies more time and resources allocated solely on cryptography.

The importance of resource usage and allocation is certainly important in the cryptography war. German’s sloppy and careless usage of the machine played a role in the Allies’ success. The machine workers made a few mistakes that wouldn’t have been made if they had a certain level of understanding on the working mechanisms behind the Enigma machine. For instance, by never repeating letters in the daily scrambler settings, they actually eliminated repetitions for the Allies’ cryptanalysists. On the other hand, Allies were especially protective of their codes, with only Navajo speakers controlling the content of the messages.

In addition, as the Allies had more time and resource available to focus on code-breaking, they were able to allocate the accurate resources. As they dealt with the Enigma machine, the former strategy of recruiting linguists was abandoned. They were able to focus their resources on scientists and mathematicians, and thus eventually beating the machine with another machine.

A Uniquely American Code

One of the foremost advantages the Allies had during the Second World War was the United States’ Navajo Code Talkers. Because Native American tribes developed language and culture separately from Europe and Asia, there was no basis for the German cryptographers to begin to decrypt their codes. An extra layer of encryption was that the Navajo code corresponded to words or letters in the English language, rather than their own meanings, which made decryption more than simply understanding the Navajo language (which the Germans and Japanese were unable to do, anyway).

Though German forces were overly confident in the Enigma cipher and its complexity and impermeability, it did not mean they were unable to gain ground with cracking the Allies’ ciphers. Codes and cipher machines such as Type X and SIGABA may have been more effective than Enigma because Allied cryptographers were more careful than German ones. However, there was always a risk that the German cryptanalysts had begun to crack the codes, and decrypting the messages sent by those machines were also very slow. Implementing the Navajo Code Talkers made it basically impossible for the Germans to crack the code, and also expedited the process of sending and deciphering messages that greatly contributed to the Allies’ victory.

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