Methodology and examples.
"History is FUN", according to my eldest niece :-)
Blighty's communications eavesdropping nerve centre GCHQ has issued two papers written by superboffin Alan Turing on the maths behind code-breaking. The documents, held in secret for 70 years, laid the foundations for the quick and efficient decryption of Nazi Enigma-scrambled messages - a breakthrough that lopped about two …
Not a fake but it is a lot eastier to write it in than type it.
You will notice that Turing was no typist and had dislexic fingers and hence the frequent "th e" so it is not surprising he resorted to script. I have the same dislexic finger issue, mine usually come out as "teh" but this is not a rare problem. It is amusing to think how difficult it would have been to crack Enigma if the Bundeswehr had the same problem.
I am not sure about this explanation because in those days nobody did any of their own typing. You wrote it longhand or spoke it into a "dictaphone" whatever that was. Then it would go to the "typing pool" where someone would produce your typed copy and deliver it back to you. Admittedly someone like Turing could have been an exception but the culture of "typing" being a specialist (and menial) skill was extremely strong.
I'm not going to be absolute with this, but I do 'feel' that dictaphones didn't come into common usage in the 1940's, in fact they were still pretty much a beast when I worked for IBM in the late 60's.
More likely, if you were important enough, you had the use of a shorthand typist. That person would write down your dictation in wiggles and squiggles, then later type it up to present to you in English.
I could also see that when using the above shorthand method, dictating mathmatical formulae to a shorthand taker may prove very difficult as they wouldn't necessarily have a clue what you are on about. Just do the text and let the expert add the 'cryptic' scientific notation by hand would be efficient.
You can tell because of the large equations.
I wish someone would write a program that turned all the sigmas into for loops and all the brackets into += / -= / /= / *=. While their at it they could come up with a seed AI with the goal of making all variable names sensible and at least 9 characters long.
> Biggest contribution by far from the polish was getting their hands on a working [Enigma] machine
That sounds entirely too Hollywoodesque.
Looked it up in "Mathematics and War" [2003, Birkhäuser Verlag]
The Polish mathematicians could read most german codes by 1932, but didn't manage to break the Enigma. They obtained a commercial Enigma used by business firms to get general insights into the machine. Then the french were contacted by an employee of the Reichswehr cryptography agency, [Hans-Thiko Schmidt] who sold secrets to captain Gustave Bertrand (but not the Enigma wiring scheme details). Captain Bertrand then contacted the Polish Cipher Bureau, and the final arrangement was that the French were to concentrate on delivering intelligence reports from Germany to help in code breaking, while the Poles were responsible for theoretical studies of Enigma intercepts. These guys actually cracked Enigma successfully
> In late 1934, the three mathematicians experienced the exciting decryptment of a transmission they could read as "To all commandants of the airfield throughout Germany" The signal ordered "the transportation to Berlin, alive or dead, of Kerl Ernst, adjutant to S.A. chief"
> Thus 1934 was the year when the cryptology team of the Polish Cipher Bureau broke the ciphers of the German Army (Heer) and the codes of S.D. (Sicherheitsdienst der SS) as well as codes and ciphers of the German Navy. The Kriegsmarine used three kinds of Enigma keys: operational, staff and admirals. The last key was resistant to breaking for a long time.
The Bombe came later after Enigma keys were changed regularly, but it was all based on the Polish work.
Unfortunately (yes, I'm Polish), not much. It's not that a lot of the theoretical foundations weren't laid by Polish mathematicians, it's that certain political decisions caused them to fall by the wayside.
However you want to twist it, siding with the French in their code-breaking efforts cost them the chance to work at Bletchley Park. Turing was a brilliant mathematician and computer scientist and he did a lot more work in breaking the code than any other man.
Cheers to that!
The Poles did a tremendous job on the early Enigmas with very limited resources, but got stumped when the Germans added the plug board on the front of the machine. Turing's genius was to solve the plug board problem. So it was in effect a joint effort.
One of the most important additional aspects of the Polish work was to demonstrate that attacking a machine cypher was possible. Without that the British might not have got started in the first place.
Oxford University Department for Continuing Education are holding a weekend course to celebrate Turing's 100th birthday on 23rd June. Only £100, it will cover many different aspects of his life through a series of lectures by leading experts.
Possibly a silly condition placed on them by GCHQ securocrats to enhance the mystique of these papers.
The nameless (again pointless security theatre) from GCHQ interviewed on Radio 4 about this was keen to stress the claim that Turing's papers could not possibly have been released any earlier because of their sensitive nature. We are supposed to read into this that GCHQ are: (a) diligently doing their bit to protect Blighty from code-breaking jihadis, Ruskies and Sino-hackers, and (b) emphasising Turing's total genius (while still brushing under the carpet the injustice of the British state hounding him for his homosexuality).
I don't doubt the importance of this work done by Turing and others at the time but it is farcical for GCHQ to engage in a PR exercise claiming they could not have been released decades ago.
You should read some of the tabloid press now and again then. Any time they want to try and rubbish a scientific news item they use the word "boffin" in the context of a bumbling oaf who produces crackpot theories.
El Reg is allowed to use it because we know they are using it properly.
"nerd and geek have already been reclaimed"
You reckon? If I wanted to insult a nerd, I'd call him a "geek".
But boffin has never been, to my mind, a direct insult.
It implies "not one of us", eccentricity, focus in niche areas, otherworldliness, possibly obessiveness, but not necessarily unpleasant or having a grating lack of social skills.
Geek and nerd still imply people you'd avoid on the bus. A boffin would be quiet company, looking out the window and puffing reflectively on his (unlit) pipe.
The boffin par excellence is Barnes-Wallis.
"nerd and geek have already been reclaimed" You reckon? If I wanted to insult a nerd, I'd call him a "geek"
Yes I do reckon. If you're the sort of person who goes around trying to insult nerds and or geeks then I'm happy I don't know you. I also wouldn't give a damn what any name-calling moron (see what I did there?) said to me either. It's 2012 for feck's sake.
Can we all just grow up? Name-calling is a useless process and anyone using it can be rightly ignored?
There were still inherent design flaws in the machine. For example, the fastest moving wheel was on the right-hand (output) side of the machine. This meant that, for long stretches of messages, the whole rest of the machine could be treated as a constant, which made breaking the codes possible. You're right about human factors making it even easier, but Enigma was not perfect.
An even more fundamental design flaw in the Enigma machine is that a character cannot encipher to itself, this is because the lamp board and key board shared the connection for a given character.
Add that to its other flaws and it became possible to break it, although the 4-wheel Enigma used by the German Navy did take significant extra work to find a way in.
Not completely unbreakable if used right, but...
(Enigmas were in use for a long time after WWII... )
And the operators weren't lazy, either. They were following strict protocol.
What the Germans did wrong was that at the beginning of EVERY message, they sent an 'offset' code giving the final 'operator decided' adjustment of the daily code. then they incredibly enough REPEATED that 'offset'.
Germans were nothing but thorough... After all, there was the chance that the first few codes were misread by the receiver...
They correctly assumed that long messages was bad, though, and that a lot of short messages sent on the same day, using the exact same code would be just as bad. They just screwed up on how to do the 'offset' key exchange.
Maybe lazy was the wrong word though I remember something about an operator having to re-send a long message and he didnt bother to change the rotor settings or something which helped Bletchley Park decrypt the message, also they always started with a station weather report which had a limited number of variables which aided decrypting, and another bored operator who simply pressed the same letter many times for some reason which also aided Bletchley Park to work out the rotor settings, my memory is a bit fuzzy about the details, mostly it seemed to be human error compounded by the official method/system of using Enigma not being the most secure.
This piece of work is powerful despite the use of a primitive typewriter and pen, and lack of use of Powerpoint, MathCad, Word etc. These days it would most likely be given scant attention and disregarded as an 'unprofessional' piece of work.
How we have lost our way with all these modern 'productivity' tools, which are for the most part exactly the opposite. Turing would have utterly rejected them, I'm sure!
"How we have lost our way with all these modern 'productivity' tools, which are for the most part exactly the opposite. Turing would have utterly rejected them, I'm sure!"
Er - we are talking about a chap who could read 32 character hexadecimal in reverse and do mental arithmetic with the numbers. This is the same geezer who arrived at the concept of a universal machine, a concept now referred to as a Turing Machine. We refer to devices with enough computing power and programmability to run arbitrary algorithms as Turing Complete.
I think he would have been amazed and delighted by modern technology, and would have used symbolic computation to the utmost to construct some of the objects he used logic to prove statements about.
(Just call me Keith for now, got to be careful)
"In December 1932, the Polish Cipher Bureau first broke Germany's military Enigma ciphers. Five weeks before the outbreak of World War II, on 25 July 1939, in Warsaw, they presented their Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment to French and British military intelligence. "
All this talk about Enigma and Turing and never even a word about who actually cracked the code. :(
There were several enigma codes and I don't think the Poles broke all of them. The navy code was particularly vital for defeating the U-boats. I believe that even with all the brilliance and equipment, they still needed cribs to break the codes quickly, which were usually obtained in the field or at sea at great personal risk to those involved