Alan Turing's Enigma-breaking papers released

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Doctor Q, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) British intelligence agency has released two typewritten papers by Alan Turing on the mathematics behind code-breaking, part of his successful effort to break the Enigma machine's code during World War II. His papers were kept hidden for 70 years and were said to have shortened World War II by two years.

    The papers were donated on Friday to The National Archive in Kew, Surrey, where they will be available to view on request. An archives spokesperson said demand to see Turing's work is high, but there is no plan to put it online.
    How cool! I'd love to see those papers.

    News link
     
  2. chrono1081 macrumors 604

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    This is really neat, but I'm pretty sure my math skill is well below the standard needed to understand these papers :p
     
  3. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    Maybe we could get some flash cards and study probability theory a bit, to brush up our skills, and then it will all make sense to us!

    Actually, I understand one part of the article but it nevertheless puzzles me. It says:
    The statistics paper describes how examining repeated characters in two encrypted messages can prove that both passages use the same encipherment key.
    but I thought what made the Enigma machine so tough to break was that the key kept changing.
     
  4. Shrink macrumors G3

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    With my advanced mathematical skills, I was able to follow the page numbering.

    As far as the text goes...well:eek:
     

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  5. gnasher729 macrumors P6

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    No, the key was kept the same every day. The "key" means the total set of instructions how to set up the Enigma; which of the wheels to use, how to rotate them, you to set up the cables on the switchboard. Then every time you pressed a letter on the keyboard, the setup of the machine was changed by rotating the wheels (that is how Enigma works), but the statistics is to find out that two messages were encrypted with the same original settings and going through the same changes.

    So this wouldn't have helped deciphering messages, but it would have helped to state "these two messages were both sent using an Enigma with identical initial settings".
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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  7. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

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    Here is a picture of one of my college professor critiquing a math problem I was trying to solve.
     

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  8. Shrink macrumors G3

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    Always show your work...:p
     
  9. Scepticalscribe Contributor

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    #9
    Excellent post which explains this very well.

    Thanks, also to the OP for posting the above link and making a thread about this - it is really very interesting and great to see that this is now in the public domain. Personally, I'd love to see those papers also.
     

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