Then the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition is for you!
Now in its third year, the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition is aimed at secondary school children up to Year 11 (England and Wales), S4 (Scotland), Year 12 (Northern Ireland). You don't need to be a computer whizz or a mathematical genius - you just need to keep your wits about you and be good at solving problems! (See here for eligibility.)
|In his relatively short life, Alan Turing - code-breaker, mathematician and founding father of computer science - made a unique impact on the history of computing, computer science, artificial intelligence, developmental biology, and the mathematical theory of computability.|
Cryptographical techniques are used everywhere in modern everyday life. For example, Skype (speech) and Blackberry (text) use encryption to prevent eavesdropping, many websites use encryption to process credit card payments securely, and banks use it so that people can safely do their internet banking at home. Here you can find a quick introduction to cryptography.
The competition starts on Monday 27th January, and you can register your team (or join an existing team) here. A team consists of at most 4 members. It is also possible to register as a `non-competing' team, for instance if you're a teacher who would like to follow the competition or if some members of your team are too old to take part. Registration opens on Monday 2nd December (you can request an email reminder on the registration page). See the this section for more details.
The competition follows the story of two young cipher sleuths, Mike and Ellie, as they get caught up in an adventure to discover the Lovell Legacy. Every week or two weeks a new chapter of the story is released, each with a cryptographic puzzle to solve (see here for the release dates). There are six chapters in total (plus an epilogue to conclude the story). Points can be earned by cracking each code and submitting your answer. The leaderboard keeps track of how well each team is doing. (See the FAQ for how the scoring works.)
|1.||If your team are the first to solve any of the six chapters, then each team member wins £15 in Amazon gift vouchers.|
|2.||Each member of the teams that finish in first, second and third place on the leaderboard win £30, £25 and £20, respectively, in Amazon gift vouchers, and the teams' schools will win a trophy.|
|3.||Each chapter also has a number of spot prizes: for each chapter, spot prizes (of £10 Amazon gift vouchers per team member) can be won by up to 5 randomly chosen teams - but you'll have to be fast: spot prizes can only be won before the next chapter is released!|
The prizes are kindly sponsored by the flight search company Skyscanner. Skyscanner was set up by two former computer scientists from the University of Manchester, two people who directly benefitted from Turing's contributions to Manchester and computing.
Now that you're an expert cryptographer, you'll want to show off your new skills in person! Join us at the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester on Wed April 30th 2014 for plenty of code-breaking action, a live cryptography mini-challenge, and the prize ceremony for the competition winners!
(See here for details.)