Faculty Taster Day: Mathematics and Statistics departmental session

Tuesday 02 July 2013, 0900-1700
Lancaster University Management School

The mathematics of code breaking

Writing and deciphering coded messages is often thought of as the pastime of spies or secret police, but it actually involves a lot of interesting maths.

Julius Caesar used simple methods more than 2000 years ago to send messages across the battlefield without them being read by the enemy. In the years since, codes have become more and more sophisticated, with mathematicians playing an ever-increasing role in designing and cracking them. Code breakers played a pivotal part in the Second World War, and on the internet it would be impossible for banks and other businesses to operate without secure ways of sending passwords and other information.

This session will introduce some of the key ideas of making and breaking codes, and show how maths can help you keep your private information private. We will begin with a short talk, introducing some of the main mathematical ideas involved in coding and cryptography. Then there will be an opportunity to try some of the methods you've met in a hands-on coding and code-breaking activity. You'll also be able to talk to students and staff about studying mathematics and statistics at university.