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Mathematics Department - University of Michigan



Content: This course gives a historical introduction to Cryptology, from ancient times up to modern public key encryption, particularly RSA, and introduces a number of mathematical ideas involved in the development and analysis of codes. Mathematical topics include some enumeration, probability, and statistics, but the bulk of the course is devoted to elementary number theory. Students also work throughout the course on effectively communicating mathematics, both written and orally. Moreover, students will develop rigorous mathematical proof writing skills, and a primary goal of the course is to not only understand how various cryptosystems work, but why.

Structure: The course has two components, classroom and computer lab. The classroom component meets three days each week, and is driven by in-class worksheets students complete in small groups. Each worksheet consists of definitions, examples, problems, and mathematical results that students attempt to understand through discussion with their peers and the instructor. As students solve problems from the worksheet, they present their solutions to the rest of the class. In the computer lab, various discovery-based projects allow the students to explore the ideas developed in the classroom and cryptosystems not covered in the worksheets. No previous experience with computer programming is necessary.

In the computer lab, various discovery-based projects are designed to allow students to explore the ideas developed in the classroom.

Materials: The detailed description "Inquiry Based Learning in Cryptology" of the course by Kyle Petersen provides more information about the course and inquiry based teaching in general. For other course materials, please contact Ralf Spatzier.

Math 175 - Introduction to Cryptology (link to the "Courses" page)