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Alan Turing Notes on Cryptography Released

July 12, 2012 by Jon Callas     No Comments

Are there any insights left to be wrung from the code breaker’s papers?

Chris Vallance of the BBC reports that GCHQ has released some of Alan Turing’s papers on the theory of code breaking. They’re not on display at the National Archives at Kew. I’ve checked the web pages of the Archives and GCHQ, and there is as of my writing nothing up there, yet.

The two papers are titled, The Applications of Probability to Crypt” and Paper on the Statistics of Repetitions. They discuss the use of mathematics to cryptanalysis. This might seem a bit obvious now, but at the time cryptanalysis was largely done by smart people and not by machines. A code-breaker was more likely someone who was good at solving complex crossword puzzles than working with numbers. It was unusual to bring in someone like Turing to a cryptology lab.