HistoCrypt 2020

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HistoCrypt 2020     
June 15–17, Budapest, Hungary             

Invited speakers

The conference is CANCELED

David Kenyon
Research Historian at Bletchley Park and Associate Lecturer in History at Brunel University, author of the recently published Bletchley Park and D-Day.

David Kenyon attained his PhD in Military History at UK Defence Academy, Shrivenham. He is currently Research Historian for the Bletchley Park Trust, responsible for historical research in support of all public content at Bletchley Park, the Second World War code-breaking site in Buckinghamshire, now a museum. This includes exhibition material as well as visitor tours, web information and broadcast items. He also appears as a spokesman for Bletchley Park on TV and radio. His latest book, Bletchley Park and D-Day was published by Yale University Press in 2019.

He was previously a free-lance military historian and museum consultant and has worked on and appeared in numerous historical TV and film projects. (These include the Trench Detectives series and work as Historical Advisor to the Spielberg film production of Warhorse in 2010.) He previously worked for a number of years as an archaeologist and is one of the UK’s leading experts on the archaeology of the First World War. His book Digging the Trenches, was published in 2008.

Bletchley Park and D-Day: Signals intelligence and the Invasion of Normandy 1944

The history of the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 is well known. Less well-known is the role of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) in the operation. The Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park played a crucial part, particularly in the planning of the operation, providing intelligence on all aspects of the task facing the invasion forces; German Order-of-Battle, defensive planning, and the expectations of German senior leaders. They were also able to intercept and frustrate German intelligence operations. This presentation gives an overview of the Bletchley Park effort, and reveals just how complete a picture of German forces SIGINT was able to offer.”


Liza Mundy
Journalist and author of the recently published Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.


Prof. Gerhard F. Strasser

Gerhard F. Strasser is professor emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Now retired in Hamburg, Germany, he has presented numerous papers in cryptology at conferences in the North America and Europe ranging from NSA to HistoCrypt; on European art history; emblematics; but also in the field of historical linguistics. Major publications in these areas include book chapters on cryptology and universal languages in the early modern period in Italy and Germany; on archival studies in cryptology at German and French libraries and institutions and at the Vatican; musical ciphers; cryptography and steganography at European courts; and on the “language of flowers.“ Together with Dr. Marloes Cornelissen (Sabancı University, Istanbul) he is currently preparing a book-length, bi-lingual edition of the 1679 manuscript and the ancillary materials that will be the subject of his HistoCrypt 2020 presentation.

Encoded Communication with Ladies in a Turkish Harem, 17th-Century Style

The Duke August Library in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, preserves a highly unusual manuscript that is listed in its late 19th-century catalog as (translated) “Turkish-French Love Ciphers,“ with a French title referring to “Silent Letters, or a Method of Making Love in Turkey without Knowing How to Read or Write.“ This intriguing piece was prepared in 1679 for Jacobus Colyer, the enterprising 22-year-old son of the Dutch representative to the Sublime Porte in Istanbul. It has three parts; the first and longest consists of an extensive, 18-page explanatory section in French in which the author details the Turkish system of sending messages (not only to ladies in the Sultan’s Harem), so-called Selams, “welcome greetings” or “peace wishes” that are remotely similar to the Oriental “language of flowers.” These messages are encoded according to a well-defined system in which five objects are wrapped in a silken kerchief and strung along so that they would retain their precise order: A piece of blue silk, a plum, a pea, a lump of sugar, a piece of aloe wood—in this order—encode the meaning “I have fallen in love […] My heart desires you like a burning flame […].” This first, explanatory part of the manuscript then demonstrates the system in a series of 21 encoded messages that illustrate the ups and downs of a relationship between a lover and a (married) object of his desires.

Without any extant “code books” beyond what the 1679 Wolfenbüttel and later sources yield (and the second part of this manuscript is exactly that, an extensive code book), it becomes clear that the meaning of such Selam messages was common knowledge among interested parties, so to speak—in particular in the Sultan’s Harem. (The third part of the manuscript, written and bound in a pocket-book fashion, is a handy French-Turkish dictionary “for the heat of the battle” in which three compromising words are enciphered in Turkish—hence the 19th-century librarian’s reference to “love ciphers”).

The presentation will detail this system and also branch out to show how this manuscript was adapted in two different publications of the same year, in a 44-page anonymous Histoire galante et véritable printed in Holland where the lovers meet a tragic end. Simultaneously the material was re-used in an extensive analysis of the state of affairs in Turkey, where this novelette interrupts an otherwise factual presentation in a book titled Le Secretaire Turc with (this time around) a Hollywood-style happy ending to a story that over two thirds of the text is identical with the Histoire galante—an ingenious re-use of the same material for different audiences.


Paul Zimmermann

Paul Zimmermann is researcher at Inria (French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology) in Nancy, France. His research interests cover both computer arithmetic and computational number theory. He is the author of the book "Modern Computer Arithmetic" written with Richard Brent, and the main developer of the GNU MPFR library (with Vincent Lefèvre). He is the main author and developer of GMP-ECM, a program that finds large prime factors using the Elliptic Curve Method. He is also one of the main developers of CADO-NFS, a program to factor integers using the Number Field Sieve algorithm. He participated in the integer factorization records of RSA-155 (155 digits) in 1999, of RSA-768 (232 digits) in 2009, and RSA-240 (240 digits) in 2019. He also coordinated the book "Computational Mathematics with SageMath" published by SIAM and available freely under a Creative Commons license.

Integer factorization: Old and Recent Developments.

Factoring integers into primes has always been a fascinating problem, because it is easy to explain, but hard to solve. Already in the end of the 19th century, Allan Cunningham, a British mathematician, started to factor numbers of the form a^n +/- b^n. This work continues today with the Cunningham project, led by Sam Wagstaff. With the advent of computers, mathematicians and computer scientists tried to factor Fermat numbers, of the form 2^(2^n) + 1. Then public key cryptography emerged, in particular the famous RSA algorithm, and the RSA company published a factorization challenge to promote research in computational number theory. Although cash prizes are no longer available for the RSA Factoring Challenge, new records are still important to assess the security of cryptographic primitives.

The presentation will recall the history of integer factorization (records, algorithms, and software tools). We will also discuss about the implications of a new factoring record, and try to imagine what the future of integer factorization could be.




Last update 2020-04-29