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Turing's Rapid Nazi Enigma Code-Breaking Secret Revealed

Alan Turing

Did Alan Turing's 1936 paper 'On Computable Numbers' influence the early history of computer building?

Two papers written by Alan Turing that detail his mathematical analysis for code breaking now can be viewed on request at Britain's National Archives.

British intelligence agency GCHQ recently donated the documents, and a spokesperson for the archives says demand to see Turing's work is high. The typewritten papers, kept secret for 70 years, laid the foundation for the quick and efficient decryption of Nazi Enigma-scrambled messages, a breakthrough that historians say trimmed about two years off the duration of World War II.

Written between April 1941 and April 1942, the papers feature Turing's hand-scribbled notes, and are titled "On Statistics of Repetitions" and "The Applications of Probability to Cryptography." The statistics paper describes how examining repeated characters in two encrypted messages can prove that both passages use the same encipherment key. The cryptography essay applies rigorous probability analysis to code-breaking methods and techniques.

The papers used "mathematical analysis to try and determine the more likely settings [for the crypto key] so that they can be tried as quickly as possible," says the GCHQ mathematician who released the documents. The move coincides with the 100th anniversary of Turing's birth on June 23.

From The Register (UK)
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