2012 is the centenary of Alan Turing - code-breaker, mathematician and founding father of computer science. Although he died relatively young, Alan Turing made a unique impact on the history of computing, computer science, artificial intelligence, developmental biology, and the mathematical theory of computability. Throughout 2012 many events will be organised in honour of the work and life of Alan Turing, see here for an overview.
The Alan Turing Centenary Cryptography Competition is a cryptography competition aimed at school children in Years 7-11 to celebrate his centenary. It is organised by the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester.
Cryptographical techniques are used everywhere in modern everyday life. Skype (speak) and Blackberry (text) use encryption to prevent eavesdropping, many websites use it to be able to process credit card payments, banks use it so that people can safely do their internet banking at home and there are many more examples. If you are interested in learning a bit more about cryptography, cracking some nice puzzles (perhaps showing off the skills you already have!) and taking part in an exciting competition with some great prizes to be won, then read on for more details and make sure to form a team and register on this website!
The competition & the story:
The story follows the adventures of Mike and Ellie, two children who get caught up in a race around Manchester, solving a number of secret codes, as they hunt for the long-lost 'Turing Treasure'.
The competition will run from 9th January 2012 to 16th April 2012. There will be 6 chapters to the story and an epilogue. Each chapter contains a code that you will need to solve. The codes get harder as the competition progresses.
You will need to be part of a team to compete in the competition. Each team is made up of a maximum of 4 people. You will need to register your team on the competition website.
We aim to release each chapter fortnightly on Monday afternoons at 4pm, according to the schedule below. As soon as your team have cracked the code, you should submit the code word to the competition website using the appropriate link in the left menu. There is a leaderboard on the website, so that you can see how your team is doing compared to others. See below for the scoring system.
If you get stuck, then often doing something else whilst you mull the problem over can help. There may also be clues in the story, and we may put further clues on the website or on the forum. Please do not post hints yourself in the forum without checking with us first as this could spoil the competition for other people. (If you publish solutions in the forum or on other websites then you should expect to be disqualified!)
|1||9th January 2012|
|2||23rd January 2012|
|3||6th February 2012|
|4||20th February 2012|
|5||5th March 2012|
|6||19th March 2012|
|Epilogue||2nd April 2012|
The competition closes at midnight on Friday 13th April 2012. The answers will be released on Monday 16th April 2012.
Scoring and the Leaderboard:
Your team's position in the leaderboard depends on: (i) how many chapters you have solved, and (ii) how quickly you solved them compared to other teams. In short, your team will win if you solve the most number of chapters faster than everybody else!
The leaderboard displays the number of chapters solved. For each chapter solved, each team will be ranked in the order in which they solve it. (So the first team to solve a given chapter is ranked 1st, the second team to solve a given chapter is ranked 2nd, and so on.)
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 adding together the rankings for each chapter solved by a team and then listing them in increasing order.
Prizes:The prizes are kindly sponsored by the flight search company Skyscanner, which was set up by two former University of Manchester based Computer Scientists. The prizes are as follows:
- first place: each team member receives £150 in Amazon gift vouchers
- second place: each team member receives £100 in Amazon gift vouchers
- third place: each team member receives £75 in Amazon gift vouchers.
In addition, each team will receive a trophy.
Prizes will be presented at the University of Manchester on Tuesday 12th June 2012 prior to the public lecture by Andrew Hodges, Turing's biographer.