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Real-World Problems Being Solved By Mathematicians

Protect Privacy

Real-World Problem

How is your privacy protected when you talk on a cell phone, log in to a social networking site or make an internet purchase?

Being Solved by Mathematicians

Cryptography involves the use of mathematics to provide privacy in electronic communications. When your internet browser shows a URL beginning with “https”, cryptography based on prime numbers is being used to protect your privacy.

Mathematicians and computer scientists
  • Design new ways to encrypt information based on well-studied mathematical problems.
  • Analyze encrypted messages to see if they can “crack a code”.
  • Recommend to organizations how to keep information secure.
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Figure 1 Mary, Queen of Scots, was convicted of intended assassination when letters revealing her plot were decrypted.
Figure 2 The Enigma machine was used to encode German communications during World War II. By cracking the Enigma code, the Allies could eavesdrop on the Germans.

Try Your Hand...

Example 1
Evette and her grandmother have encrypted a message using an ancient encryption scheme called the Vatsyayana.
Can you crack the code?

Example 2
When your internet browser shows a URL beginning with https, the information is encrypted using before it is downloaded. Try your hand at the RSA Encryption scheme used by internet browsers.

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