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The ALAN TURING
Cryptography Competition.
(edition 2015: #4).
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The Tale of the

Carbon

Conundrum

Chapter 1
Due: Mon 26 Jan, 4 pm
Countdown clock:
Chapter 2
Due: Mon 2 Feb, 4 pm
Chapter 3
Due: Mon 9 Feb, 4 pm
Chapter 4
Due: Mon 23 Feb, 4 pm
Chapter 5
Due: Mon 9 Mar, 4 pm
Chapter 6
Due: Mon 23 Mar, 4 pm
Epilogue
Due: Mon 6 Apr, 4 pm
Solutions
Due: Mon 13 Apr, 4 pm
Announcing

The Alan Turing

Cryptography Day

2015!

Want to come over to Manchester for a bit of live crypto stuff, the prize ceremony and an opportunity to meet the organisers?

Then sign up!

Rules.

Eligibility and registration

  1. The competition is only open to persons who are in full-time education (including home schoolers) in the United Kingdom up to and including Year 11 (in England and Wales), S4 (Scotland), and Year 12 (Northern Ireland).
  2. Entrants must be part of a team. Each team will contain no more than 4 people.
  3. Entrants may be part of only one team.
  4. People that do not satisfy the requirements in Rule 1 may register as a `non-competing team'. Non-competing teams will not appear on the competition leaderboard and will not be eligible for any prizes. Non-competing teams will be allowed to submit answers to the competition but with a delay of one week (for chapters 1 and 2) respectively two weeks (for chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6) after the chapters are first released.
  5. Members of the competition organisers' families are not eligible to take part in the competition, but may take part as a `non-competing team'.
  6. Each team and each person within each team (`team members') must register on the website. Each team must choose a name. Offensive or inappropriate team names will not be allowed and we reserve the right to disqualify any team which seeks to use a name that we deem to be offensive and/or inappropriate.
  7. Each team must give their school's address and provide the contact details of a teacher. Entrants who are home-schooled should provide the name and contact details of a parent or carer.
  8. The name of each team and their school will be published on the website. The nicknames of team members who post on the competition forum or on their team notes page will be visible on the website. Team members' real names will not be published on the website.
  9. We may contact teams, team members, nominated teachers (or parents/carers for home-schoolers) by email. Each team and each team member will be asked to provide a valid email address at registration.

The competition

  1. The competition comprises of six chapters of a story, each containing one code. The schedule is:
    ChapterDate released
    1Monday 26th January 2015
    2Monday 2nd February 2015
    3Monday 9th February 2015
    4Monday 23rd February 2015
    5Monday 9th March 2015
    6Monday 23rd March 2015
    EpilogueMonday 6th April 2015
    SolutionsMonday 13th April 2015

    Each chapter is normally released at 4pm on the day of release. This is done using the clock of the server on which the site is hosted, so there may be a slight difference with your clock. We reserve the right to release the chapter at a later time and/or day in case of an unforeseen event or technical problems.
  2. Each chapter of the competition contains a code to be deciphered. The deciphered code is called the plaintext. Teams will be asked to submit a given word from the plaintext to the competition website.
  3. For each chapter for which a team submits an entry, the entry will be deemed to be correct if (ignoring capitalisation) it agrees with our solution.
  4. An entry will only be deemed valid if it is submitted via the website and it is recorded by our server.
  5. A team has three attempts to submit the correct solution for a chapter. If three incorrect entries have been submitted then no further entries can be submitted for that chapter.
  6. In submitting an entry to the website, team members acknowledge that their solution is solely the collective work of the team. Any collaboration between teams will be deemed a breach of the rules and is subject to a penalty, see rule 35. Any team who receives substantial assistance from someone (including but not limited to teachers, parents, siblings) not in that team will be deemed to be in breach of the rules and will be subject to a penalty.
  7. The competition closes at midnight on Friday 10th April 2015. Entries made after this will not be counted. The solutions will be released on or after Monday 13th April 2015.

Points and the Leaderboard

  1. Points are available for the first six chapters. Teams will be awarded a number of points for each chapter that they solve correctly. The first team to solve each code will be awarded fifteen points. The other teams will be awarded points based on how much longer it takes them to solve the code compared to the first team, according to the following table:
    Points awarded:If the correct solution is received by our server:
    15within one hour of the first team to submit the correct solution
    14within two hours of the first team to submit the correct solution
    12within four hours of the first team to submit the correct solution
    11within one day of the first team to submit the correct solution
    10within two days of the first team to submit the correct solution
    9within three days of the first team to submit the correct solution
    8within four days of the first team to submit the correct solution
    7within five days of the first team to submit the correct solution
    6within six days of the first team to submit the correct solution
    5within one week of the first team to submit the correct solution
    3within ten days of the first team to submit the correct solution
    2within two weeks of the first team to submit the correct solution
    1later than two weeks after the first team to submit the correct solution,
    but before the end of the competition
  2. No points are available for the code in the Epilogue to the story.
  3. The leaderboard will display the name of each team, each team's school, the number of chapters solved, and the points awarded for each chapter.
  4. Teams who have solved the most number of chapters appear at the top of the leaderboard. Teams who have solved the same number of chapters are ordered by the total number of points awarded.
  5. If at the end of the competition winning teams tie on the number of chapters solved and the number of points awarded, then the total time taken to solve the chapters (between the chapters being released and the correct solution being received by our server) will be used to determine the winners.

Prizes

  1. The prizes will be awarded to the teams that are at the top of the leaderboard when the competition closes. Winners and their schools will be contacted by email. The prizes are:
    - first place: each team member receives £30 in Amazon gift vouchers
    - second place: each team member receives £25 in Amazon gift vouchers
    - third place: each team member receives £20 in Amazon gift vouchers

    Each team member in the teams who come in first, second and third place at the end of the competition will receive a certificate. The schools of these teams will also receive a trophy. Prizes and trophies will be awarded at the `Alan Turing Cryptography Day' hosted in the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester on Wednesday 29th April 2015. If teams, team members, or their representatives, do not attend the Alan Turing Cryptography Day then the prizes, certificates and trophies will normally be sent out on the following day to the team's nominated teacher at their school's address (or parent/carer at their address, for home-schooled teams) to be distributed.
  2. A prize of £15 per team member will be awarded to the first team that correctly solves any of the Chapters 1 through 6. The prize will normally be announced on the day that the next chapter (or, in the case of Chapter 6, the Epilogue) is released. The result will be announced on the competition website and forum and the team members of the winning team informed by email. The prizes will normally be sent out on the following day to the team's nominated teacher at their school's address (or parent/carer at their address, for home-schooled teams) to be distributed.
  3. There will be at most five spot prizes awarded for each chapter. The spot prizes will be awarded as follows: 5 teams who have correctly solved the chapter, other than the first team to have correctly solved the chapter, within one week of the scheduled release date of Chapters 1 and 2 or within two weeks of the scheduled release date of Chapters 3 to 6 will be chosen at random (by our server, using a random number generator) and awarded a spot prize of £10 per team member. If 5 or fewer teams are eligible for a random prize, then a prize will be awarded to each eligible team. The winners of the spot prizes will be normally be announced on the competition website and forum and the team members of the winning teams informed by email on the day that the next chapter (or, in the case of Chapter 6, the Epilogue) is released. Spot prizes will normally be sent out on the following day to the teams' nominated teachers at their schools' address (or parent/carer at their address, for home-schooled teams) to be distributed.
  4. Each team member of each team who successfully complete all six chapters will receive a certificate. Certificates will be posted to the teams' nominated teachers at their schools' address (or parent/carer at their address, for home-schooled teams) in early May.
  5. Prize winners agree to their team name and school name being used in publicity associated with the competition, including publication on the competition website and in University of Manchester promotional material. Team member names will only be published with the permission of the team member.
  6. The competition organisers reserve the right to change any aspect of the competition at short notice. Such changes will be announced on the competition website as soon as is practical.
  7. The awarding of prizes is at the sole discretion of the competition organisers and no correspondence will be entered into.

The Forum and team notes

  1. A web-based forum will be provided where teams can discuss cryptography, the competition so far, etc. Teams are not allowed to discuss hints or solutions for the codes on the forum.
  2. The forum is moderated by the competition organisers. Any misuse of the forum (including, but not limited to, messages that: contain offensive or objectionable material or language; contain personal details (including email addresses); break the law or encourage unlawful behaviour; contain advertising or promotional material; or impersonate other teams, team members or competition organisers) will leave the team member and their team subject to a penalty, as described in Rule 35.
  3. Each team will be provided with a `team notes' page on the competition website. Messages left on the team notes page will only be visible to other team members in that team and to the competition organisers. Any misuse of the team notes page (including, but not limited to, messages as described in Rule 29) will leave the team member and their team subject to a penalty, as described in Rule 35.
  4. Any team or team member who posts a solution or hint, or requests help in any public forum will be open to a penalty, as described in Rule 35.
  5. The competition organisers reserve the right to publish clues and hints on the website and forum as they see fit.

Penalties and misbehaviour

  1. In registering a team or as a team member, participating in the competition and/or posting on the forum, team members agree to be bound by all the rules of the competition.
  2. Any team or team member who attempts to disrupt or hack the competition website (including, but not limited to, behaviour that could be deemed a denial of service attack) will be disqualified from the competition.
  3. Teams who do not abide by the rules of the competition will suffer a penalty, as decided by the competition organisers. Penalties will include, but are not limited to:
    - a formal warning
    - a deduction of points
    - a temporary or permanent ban from the forum
    - disqualification from the competition.
    The level of penalty imposed will be decided solely by the competition organisers. In deciding the level of penalty, the organisers may consider any facts that they deem relevant, including the number of penalties already given to that team. No correspondence between team members or their representatives and the competition organisers regarding the imposition or level of penalties will be entered into.