Find Me a Mathematical Problem No One Can Solve – I’ll Show You an Encryption Use


Currently, there are contests worth 100s of thousands of dollars for those who can solve mathematical problems, equations, and produce proofs. There are also a few that could net a mathematician or team millions of dollars, and perhaps land them some rather sizeable government, national security, and military contracts, not to mention some decent gigs in Wall Street or Silicon Valley.

In fact there was a great video lecture at MIT World – Distributive Intelligence, titled “Growth of Cryptography” by Robert Rivest posted on February 8, 2011 – in which the notable speaker lamented that, if you find a mathematical question you cannot solve, don’t regret, because you may have discovered an extremely worthwhile tool to use in encryption and cryptography. When I heard that I chuckled, along with the audience.

You know, he’s right! And so, I guess the title of my article now, makes sense to you. As well it should, and I’d like you to consider that the field of encryption is exploding now with eBooks publishers, Hollywood movie makers, music industry, and mobile phone and personal tech devices, as everyone is working to protect their data.

What comes next is something that scares everyone; quantum computing, and thus, the ability to break nearly any current encryption technology, so it’s an exciting time for this field, and it will be well-off into the future. Of course, it’s always been an interesting, and sometimes more relevant than you’ve imagined field of science, often with life and death and whole nations hanging in the balance.

If you love spy novels, and like to follow all the conspiracy theories online, then perhaps you might also like to learn a little bit of history with regards to encryption, it is fascinating stuff indeed. In that case let me recommend a very excellent book to you, and incidentally the author David Kahn also wrote “Code Breakers” which is another great book on the topic to read. Now then, the name of the book I’d like to recommend to you is: “Seizing the Enigma – The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes 1939-1943”.

It surely doesn’t take a rocket science or MIT mathematician to see the relevance of encryptions or cryptography to understand its importance after reading that book. As hackers get more proficient, so to must those who wish to keep them from jail-breaking code to protect intellectual property. The economic stakes, not to mention the military importance cannot be underestimated, at least not for those who live in the present period. Please consider all this.

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