Explorations and Applications of Modern Cryptology


Kimberly Wiles

Faculty Mentor(s)

Stuart Boersma (Mathematics)


From as early as 400 BC, civilizations have been using cryptography; the art of creating codes. Often utilized among military personal, encrypted messages contributed a significant amount to the success of a nation or region in wars and battles. Today, cryptology is used to secure our data, keeping our private information hidden from unwanted eyes. As mathematics and sciences advance, new methods for cryptology arise. In this project, we researched a variety of encryption methods. From lower level algebra to upper level abstract algebra, these methods vary in complexity which affect how difficult the resulting ciphers are to break. After an exploration of these methods, we made an attempt to decrypt a journal from the 1800s that has never been deciphered before. This presentation will provide a summary of this journey from learning to applying cryptology.

Keywords: Cryptology, Mathematics, Encryption


7 thoughts on “Explorations and Applications of Modern Cryptology”

  1. Jean Marie Linhart

    Good job, Kim. Can you tell me a little bit about a technique you used in an attempt to decrypt the journal?

    1. Thank you! We first attempted to detect a monoalphabetic method of encryption by assigning number-lined symbols to random letters of the alphabet. In doing this, we ran a letter frequency to see if the frequency of the “letters” within the message aligned with the standard frequency of letters in the English alphabet. When nothing came from this, more observation led to realizing that each number-lined symbol may be different than we thought. For example, where we had previously noted “underlined 4” and “underlined 5” as letters, we realized that in some cases this was actually an underlined 45, leading to an adjustment in what we defined as letters. As you can imagine, it got more complex from there. Our technique for this process was more about attempting to recognize patterns and any identifiable characteristics about the codes that could point us in the right direction of a specific encryption process.

  2. Kim, your presentation was easy to follow and I found the topic interesting. I am curious about the different attempts you made in trying to decrypt the journal you talk about.

  3. Vivian J. Goshashy

    Nice job, Kim. It’s cool that you attempted to decrypt a series of codes written in a journal that is 214 years.

  4. Tavis E Peterson

    Hi Kim! I enjoyed watching you video, and thought that it was really well done. It was easy to understand and fun to watch! I also liked hearing about how you and Dr. Boersma attempted to crack an undefeated code! It was very interesting. Overall, great job!

  5. Hello Kim,
    Coming from someone who has had no experience in cryptology, I feel like I have a beginners grasp on what is happening. I had no idea how data was encrypted in computers nor how long encryption methods have been around. Seeing the modular in a polynomial made me feel especially good about my secure data. I found it especially interesting that you worked on a code that has never been cracked! I hope to hear more about this code some day being deciphered.

  6. Kim,

    I enjoyed watching your presentation, and I also was amazed by how many possible ways something could be encrypted. Something, I was wondering after the presentation is how complex can an encryption method can be?

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