The Alan Turing Cryptography Competition ran for the first time in January 2012 as part of the Alan Turing Year centenary celebrations. The competition was so successful in promoting mathematics to young mathematicians that we decided to turn it into a yearly event. You can read more about the previous editions in the archive.
The Alan Turing Cryptography Competition is open to all schoolchildren up to and including Year 11 (England and Wales), up to and including S4 (Scotland) and up to and including Year 12 (Northern Ireland). Whilst we believe that the competition is most suitable for schoolchildren at secondary school, the early stages of the competition may be accessible to schoolchildren in the final year of primary school.
The story follows Mike and Ellie who must solve a number of cryptographic problems as they go along. The problems do not need any sophisticated mathematics to solve, nor do they require the use of computers. Instead, logical thought and problem-solving abilities are all that is required.
The competition runs from Monday 27th January to Friday 11th April. A new chapter of the story is released on Mondays at 4 pm. The first three chapters appear with a week between them, the remaining chapters have two weeks between them (see the FAQ for exact dates). There are 6 chapters in total. Each chapter contains a code to solve and they get progressively harder. The students can earn points for the leaderboard by submitting the correct solution as soon as they have found it. The solutions will be released on Monday 14th April.
Pupils should form teams of between 1 and 4 people. They can register their team here (registration opens on Monday 2nd December). We firmly believe that solving the problems should be done collaboratively and that team-work is an important part of mathematics!
There are prizes (Amazon gift vouchers) awarded at various stages in the competition. These are: £15 gift vouchers per team member for the first team to solve each chapter, and up to five £10 gift vouchers per team member `spot' prizes for teams who correctly solve each chapter within the first two weeks of its scheduled release. At the end of the competition, the top three teams on the leaderboard will win £30, £25, £20 gift vouchers per team member; and their schools will receive a trophy.
When registering, each team is asked to supply the contact details of a teacher at their school. This is so we can keep in contact with the schools who enter the competition, including notifying the prize-winners. Please be aware that prizes will be sent to the nominated teacher for the teacher to distribute to the winning team members.
If your school has a mathematics club or society then the competition would make an ideal activity for them.