You are here

Math Horizons - April 2006

Content Teasers for April 2006

Historical Ciphers and Ancient Languages
Sarah Spence Adams

The connections between cryptanalysis and the decipherment of ancient languages. The author explores history---Caesar ciphers, substitution ciphers, cribs, machine ciphers like Enigma and Purple, Navajo code, and the ultimate crib---the Rosetta stone.

Fighting Terrorism with Mathematics
Peter Allison

High powered mathematics and supercomputers join forces to attack problems in national security and terrorism. Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory use supercomputers, differential equations, and attributed relational graphs to detect threatening behavior and create plans for safe keeping the country.

Devastating Round off Error
Tim Chartier

How accumulated round off error  lead to the failure of the Patriot missile defense system during the Gulf War.

SENDing MORE MONEY in any base
Christopher Kribs-Zaleta

Dudeney's classic "Send More Money" cryptarithmetic puzzle has a unique solution in base ten. This article generalizes explores solutions in bases other than ten.

Could Your iPod Be Holding the Greatest Mystery in Modern Science?
Bernard Chazelle

Algorithmic thinking is likely to cause the most disruptive paradigm shift in the sciences since quantum mechanics. The  big ideas revolve around universality, duality, and self-reference.

Decoding the Hamming Code
Richard Ehrenborg

With a special deck of cards based on the error-correcting Hamming code of length seven, you can detect a lie, if one exists.

Self-answering Problems

Winners from the September 2005 contest---to pose a problem in such a way that they contained their own answers---include Raymond Greenwell, Roger Nelsen, Head-Royce School Math Club, Rheta Rubenstein, Dave Ehren, Jeff Tupper, and Stan Wagon.

Organizational Profile: The Inside Scoop on Mathematics at the NSA
Michelle Wagner

To read this article we must swear you to secrecy. While cryptology is the bread-and-butter of the NSA's business, carrying out the mission requires the talent of many different kinds of employees: intelligence analysts, linguists, computer scientists, engineers, human resource specialists, and mathematicians. Read profiles of Paul Iezzi, Valerie Nelson, and Megan Waterman.

The NSA Director's Summer Program
Sage Briscoe & Aaron Magid

A different type of summer research experience.

Advice on Giving a Good PowerPoint Presentation
Joseph A. Gallian

Practical advice on preparing and delivering a PowerPoint presentation.

Book Reviews
Elizabeth D. Russell and Natalya St. Clair

Elizabeth Russell review Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird and Natalya St. Clair reviews The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh.

Problem Section
Andy Liu
Saddle Point in Sandstone
Stan Wagon

Climber Phil Hage climbs a natural saddle point in the Navajo Sandstone near Escalante, Utah.