[Edu-sig] Cryptonomicon

Dustin Mitchell dustin@cs.uchicago.edu
Fri, 10 Nov 2000 13:56:32 -0600 (CST)

On Fri, 10 Nov 2000, Kirby Urner wrote:

> Anyway, I invite people to consider a role for Python
> at this juncture -- could be a great place to do some
> original and useful curriculum writing, IMO (think
> elementary school for example -- no need to start in
> the densest areas -- and do some simple substitution
> codes (plus there's always using algorithms to try
> cracking such simple codes (then moving on to the 
> next level)).

I think this is an excellent idea.  Crypto is hard to learn because (a)
proving that it's hard to crack requires complex formal mathematical
constructions, and (b) any real crypto uses numbers too big to write down,
let alone think about.

A clear implementation of various crypto algorithms in Python would be a
great thing to have around.  If we can take its bit-length down to, oh,
9, then the numbers are numbers high-schoolers can crunch in a class
period with a calculator, but the computer can take care of a lot of the
calculations automatically. 

There are some *excellent* opportunities for assignments in there,
too.  And they're virtually impossible to cheat on :)


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