Prerequisites: Qualifying math score and completion of grade 3 math
Course Format: Individually Paced
Course Length: Typically 3 months
Course Code: CMC
Cryptography: Math and Codes introduces students to the exciting practice of making and breaking secret codes. This popular course is designed for for mathematical enrichment for students in grades 4-6.
Students begin with simple Caesar Ciphers, learning to encrypt and decrypt messages as well as the history behind the cipher. They will move through history and more advanced mathematical concepts to learn substitution ciphers, Vigenère ciphers, and multiplicative and affine ciphers. Students will need to put all their newly acquired knowledge to the test by finishing with public key cryptography and the modern day RSA cryptosystem. This course intersects the disciplines of mathematics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Applications of cryptography include ATM cards, computer passwords, and electronic commerce.
Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to encrypt and decrypt messages, invent their own ciphers, discuss relevant historical events and literature, and learn some mathematical concepts that are often not seen until college!
Mathematical Topics covered Include:
For a detailed list of topics, click the List of Topics tab.
Assignments are based on a text that is purchased separately by the student.
There is a textbook purchase required for this course:
The Cryptoclub: Using Mathematics to Make and Break Secret Codes. Janet Beissinger and Vera Pless (AK Peters, 2006)
In addition to the textbook, there are interactive websites and videos in the course.
In a Caesar Cipher, the alphabet is shifted a certain number of places and each letter of a message is replaced by the corresponding shifted letter. With this tool, you can shift the alphabet using the cipher wheel then encrypt your own message!
This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.
This course uses an online classroom for individual or group discussions with the instructor. The classroom works on standard computers with the Adobe Flash plugin, and also tablets or handhelds that support the Adobe Connect Mobile app.