MATH 13187-1: Magic of Numbers

Instructor: Sam Evens

Mathematics University Seminar

This course will investigate the mathematics of cryptography, with some time focused on the history of cryptography, including the life of Alan Turing and the enigma problem of the second world war, which is the central topic to the movie "The Imitation Game". We will learn some number theory, an area of mathematics, in order to understand the RSA algorithm, which is a major tool in secure internet transactions. Although the math prerequisites are minimal in the sense that ninth grade algebra is essentially sufficient, we will learn about some mathematics usually not covered until the junior year for math majors. We will also read a popular science book about the history of cryptography. We will spend a significant amount of time in class discussing and working on problems which illustrate the ideas from number theory that we need. There will be several options for completing the writing requirement, including keeping a journal on topics discussed in class plus some short papers, or writing some short papers along with a longer paper, and previous students have written on literary, historical, philosophical, and sociological topics. Students more interested in mathematics will have the option of fulfilling the writing requirement by investigating the mathematics in the course more deeply than we will present in class.

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