A Historical Glimpse at the Making and Breaking of Codes and Ciphers

Gordon Pritchett

Tuesdays, October 3 - October 24 10:00 a.m. - noon 4 sessions
The Engineering Center, One Walnut Street

Cryptology is an overarching term that encompasses both cryptography, the art  of creating codes and ciphers, and cryptanalysis, the science of breaking codes and ciphers. We will examine the basic components of effective, secure communication schemes and discuss some intriguing historical events in both war and peace, where secret writing played a major role. Examples will include the enigma machine and contemporary encryption systems. The course will also include insights into the mathematics behind many of these ciphers, but will not require any mathematic prowess.

Suggested Reading: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh

Teaching Style: Lecture with discussion     Weekly Preparation: 1 hour


    Gordon Pritchett

    Gordon Pritchett earned a B.A. in mathematics and physics from Williams College and an M.A. and PhD in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His research has been focused on number theory and mathematics educations. He developed an NSF-funded course in cryptology and coding theory with Sarah Adams of The Olin College of Engineering. He has served as a professor of mathematics and administrator in various capacities  at Hamilton College, Wellesley College, and Babson College.