# IA (HL) Maths exploration - cryptography?

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hello guys i'm in a bit of a pinch this week. i am struggling to go on for my exploration. all i decided was that i wanted to do on cryptography. my teachers encouraged me to do so and i can be a little enthusiastic about it. however, that's all i have! i don't know where to start really.

does anyone have any advice to give me on how to proceed?

(i have minimal knowledge about cryptography)

thank you peeps

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hello guys i'm in a bit of a pinch this week. i am struggling to go on for my exploration. all i decided was that i wanted to do on cryptography. my teachers encouraged me to do so and i can be a little enthusiastic about it. however, that's all i have! i don't know where to start really.

does anyone have any advice to give me on how to proceed?

(i have minimal knowledge about cryptography)

thank you peeps

There are a lot of things that you can talk about in cryptography. It's full of mathematics. There are 2 ways that you can approach this topic; you can either talk about:

1. Modern cryptography: Here, you can discuss about either symmetric or asymmetric encryption algorithms. Symmetric encryption is the simplest one (and also the easiest one to break). It can take various forms, from Caesar's shift encryption, to modern computer algorithm such as DES (Data-encryption standards). On other hand, asymmetric encryption (public-key algorithm) is much harder to break. An example is the RSA algorithm (which is the most common algorithm out there in the technology world. It takes advantage of modular arithmetic, thus containing quite a lot of mathematics for you to explore. However, note that this topic about RSA might be a little bit overdone, so it might be hard for your to make your IA 'stand-out' from others'. Another thing that you can talk about in modern cryptography is pseudorandom number generator (which an be used to generate has-codes for data). Here, you can look at the mathematics of generating numbers that seem to be random, but are not truly random (hence the name 'pseudo')
2. Old cryptography algorithms: Here you can talk about Morse code (which might also be a bit overdone, considering its popularity). Another idea is to explore the Enigma machine (invented by the Germans), and about how Alan Turing cracked this Enigma during the WWII. Here are some videos for inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2_Q9FoD-oQ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2NWPG2gB_A . The interesting thing about this topic is that you can include combinatorics (which is a field in mathematics that deals with calculations of how many ways that you can combine things) into your IA.

I would strongly recommend you to explore Enigma (and Turing's crack) because it's challenging, rewarding, fun, and it's totally not overdone. Anyway good luck!

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@vioh thank you so much for your quick and detailed answer. after doing quite a lot of research, i fell in love with the enigma machine. it's simply amazing. i knew someone would post about this and i guess i'm gonna go for it. thanks mate

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• 7 years later...

Hey, I found this post and it gave me idea for IA, I am doing maths AA HL so exploration of mathematics behind pseudo random number generator, which areas of maths should I focus on? Any particular theories? Is this good enough of a topic for AA HL? thanks

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