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Supercomputing Challenge

The Underlying Mathematics of the Enigma

Team: 63


Area of Science: Math

Interim: Problem Definition:
The enigma machine was used by the Germans in WWII to encrypt messages such as orders and troop and fleet movements. The enigma machine is made up of a series of buttons, rotors, and a plug board. An electrical signal is sent through the different components to decipher a message. The problem is to create a mathematical code or model to decipher the code of only one particular machine, since there are different types. We will take into consideration the types of rotors and which plugs we use in the plug board.

Problem Solution:
We plan to use a simulator of an enigma machine that we found on the internet for our reference, since it is too expensive to construct one and all other original ones are in museums. We have been reviewing reading material from different sources to learn exactly how the machine worked. We are also researching what math was involved with it. We will find a connection between the engineering of the machine and the math that is used to decipher messages to create a model that can decipher the code.

Progress to Date:
We have recieved some very helpful material about the enigma machine from the National Security Agency. We are also researching the steps that the British and Polish took to break the code. We are trying to find a connection between the engineering and the math to see if it will even be possible to break it any faster with modern computers. There are some people that have offered to help us starting in January. When we start working with them, our project should go faster.

Expected Results:
We expect to use the mathematics to create a program that will be able to decipher the enigma code. We hope to show whether it is eaiser to decipher with modern day computers or not. We also hope to be able to show how it is decipherd visually with StarLogo. As we are working we will compare our results with the simulator we found on the internet. We know this is an accurate simulator because various reliable sources have said it is one of the best. When it is complete we will compare ours to the simulator to make sure we deciphered it correctly.

Team Members:

  Sarah Armstrong
  Juan-Antonio Vigil

Sponsoring Teacher: Robert Dryja

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