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"Substitution ciphers: Ancient – Renaissance"

I have produced a talk in what will hopefully become a series, History of maths and x. This aims to offer mathematical histories for various topics, x. The idea is that each topic is covered in a talk at the University of Nottingham that is available to view online, in an article for iSquared Magazine and is accompanied by a companion podcast released through the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast as episode 49.


Abstract for talk

Cryptography is the process by which messages are communicated through secret means. Cipher cryptography converts messages by applying some cipher algorithm with a secret key to a plaintext message, converting it into a ciphertext message that cannot be read by interceptors. Cryptanalysis is the science that attempts to decipher these messages without access to the secret key.

This talk will focus on substitution ciphers and demonstrate the processes of encrypting and breaking some examples of these. The focus is on the battle between cryptographers – who create cipher systems – and cryptanalysts – who attempt to break them. As cryptanalysis develops more ingenious ciphers must be created and this constant struggle evolves from Roman generals, through the Golden Age of Islam to political intrigue in Renaissance Europe.

This talk will provide a gentle introduction and will assume no prior knowledge of cryptography.

You can find out more about this at History of maths and x website.

Podcast: Episode 49 – History of Maths and x, Substitution ciphers: Ancient – Renaissance

These are the show notes for episode 49 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 49 is the number of strings on a harp. More about 49 from Number Gossip.

In the week in which this episode is released I am giving the first in hopefully a series of lectures entitled “History of Maths and x”, for various x. I am no expert on these topics but they interest me and I would like to explain a little of them to you. This time the x is cryptography and the lecture covers “Substitution ciphers: Ancient – Renaissance”. Lectures take place at the University of Nottingham. The lecture was videoed for the web and can be downloaded at History of Maths and x. Lectures are to be accompanied by an article in iSquared Magazine and a companion episode of this podcast containing additional information not in the talk or article.

You can view the talk and find out more through www.historyofmathsandx.co.uk.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 30 -Noel-Ann Bradshaw, Ramanujan

These are the show notes for episode 30 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 30 is the largest number with the property that all smaller numberscoprime to it are prime. More about 30 from Number Gossip.

In the regular Maths History series, Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and also Meetings Co-ordinator of the British Society for the History of Mathematics talks about Ramanujan. You can read a biography of Ramanujan at the MacTutor History of Maths Archive.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

N.B. Correction (26/05/09): In this episode Noel-Ann makes a slip of the tongue, saying “G.K. Hardy” which should be “G.H. Hardy”. We’re sorry!

Podcast Episode 25: History with Noel-Ann Bradshaw, Fibonacci

These are the show notes for episode 25 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. 25 is the smallest square that can be written as a sum of 2 squares. More about 25 from Number Gossip.

In the regular Maths History series, Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and also Meetings Co-ordinator of the British Society for the History of Mathematics talks about the life and works of Fibonacci. Read a biography of Fibonacci at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive. I’ll also pick out a couple of articles in Plus magazine: “The life and numbers of Fibonacci” and “The Mathematics of Fibonacci’s Sequence”. There are a lot of other Fibonacci references out there and I will pick out an extensive site “Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Section” by Dr Ron Knott. You can listen to an episode of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time on the Fibonacci sequence.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting www.ima.org.uk/student. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast Episode 21: History with Noel-Ann Bradshaw, Turing

These are the show notes for episode 21 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. 21 is the number of squares in the unique smallest simple squared square. You can see the square with some more information on the page about its use as the logo of the The Trinity Mathematical Society at Cambridge. There is more information on squaring problems at squaring.net. More about the number 21 from Number Gossip.

In the regular Maths History series, Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and also Meetings Co-ordinator of the British Society for the History of Mathematics talks about the life of Alan Turing. You can read a biography of Turing at the MacTutor History of Maths Archive and there are a large number of links to further reading on the Alan Turing Wikipedia page.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting www.ima.org.uk/student.

Podcast Episode 18: Jane Wess, Science Museum

These are the show notes for episode 18 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. 18 is the only number that is twice the sum of its digits. More about the number 18 from Number Gossip.

For episode 18 I visited the Science Museum where Jane Wess told me about the mathematics collection. To accompany this episode there is a video of Jane demonstrating Napier’s Bones.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting www.ima.org.uk/student.

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