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Young codebreakers at work on campus

15 May 2014

Following on from the success of the 2014 Alan Turing Cryptography Competition, the School of Mathematics held its first ever Alan Turing Cryptography Day on 30 April 2014.

Schoolchildren who had enjoyed taking part in the online competition were invited to spend an afternoon of code-breaking action in the Alan Turing Building. Nearly 200 children from 38 schools located as far away as Glasgow and Somerset enjoyed a wide range of activities including: interacting with Enigma machine apps running on iPads, a talk entitled “Enigma Variations: Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine”, some maths busking, a Q&A session with the competition organisers, as well as a live cryptography challenge which involved schools having to crack three codes in a one-hour period. 

Teachers were also encouraged to form teachers’ teams and pit their wits against the students. Needless to say, there was plenty of feverish exertion (and the students beat the teachers hands-down!). The winners of the live challenge were were Nottingham Girls’ High School who managed to solve all three codes.  

Jodrell Bank had featured heavily in the storyline (The Tale of the Lovell Legacy) for this year's competition and Professor Tim O’Brien, Associate Director of Jodrell Bank, gave a short presentation about Sir Bernard Lovell. We were also fortunate enough to have Bonamy Grimes at the event. A former graduate of this University, Bonamy then went on to establish the flight search company, Skyscanner, with another alumnus, Gareth Williams. 

Bonamy and Tim awarded the prizes to the winning teams from the online competition and to the winners of the live challenge. Bonamy also gave a few words on how his interest in mathematics and his time spent in Manchester helped equip him for his career, providing an inspirational role model for all those present.

The School of Mathematics would like to thank Skyscanner for their sponsorship of the online Alan Turing Cryptography Competition for the last three years and continued support for next year. The School is also grateful for funding provided by the Institute of Mathematics and the London Mathematical Society for its support of the Alan Turing Cryptography Day.

Registration will open for the 2015 Alan Turing Cryptography Competition on 1 December 2014 and further details can be found at: