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Q&A #13134


Code breaking - History

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From: Suzanne A. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Feb 24, 2004 at 05:17:18
Subject: Re: Code breaking - History

Hi Dave,

When I saw your message yesterday, I wrote my son because I remembered
that he had had a great interest in the Enigma coding machine when he was
in college a few years ago. His response seems similar to what Pat wrote.

---
I don't think the Enigma coding machine was based on matrices.  I found a
good explanation from a Google search:

http://users.wpi.edu/~imphss/crypto/enigma.doc

[the paper has stuff on matrices.. but it's just for student exercises after
 reading about the Enigma machines]

The paper explains it as I remember...  the Enigma machine was based on
substitution.  It held a number of rotors that would, in series, substitute
the letter that the operator had entered.  Over the course of the war the
Germans made the Enigma machines a little more complicated... but the
main method to its encoding stayed the same.
---

I noticed also that Pat recommended Caesar ciphers and I thought you
might find these "tools" from the Math Tools section of the Math Forum
interesting:

Caesar Cipher
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?id=205

Caesar Cipher II
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?id=209

Caesar Cipher III
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?id=213

 -Suzanne A., for the T2T service

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