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A Cryptographic Compendium

A Cryptographic Compendium

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Published by adilullo

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Published by: adilullo on Feb 06, 2010
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A Cryptographic Compendium
This site contains a brief outline of the various types of cipher systemsthat have been used historically, and tries to relate them to each other while avoiding a lot of mathematics.Its chapters are:1.Introduction 2.Paper and Pencil Systems 3.Electrical and Mechanical Cipher Machines 4.Telecipher Machines 5.The Computer Era 6.Public-Key Cryptography  7.Miscellaneous Topics  You can also go directly to acomplete table of contents.Thus, although this page is about cryptography, it does not fall intocertain categories of worthwhile and helpful pages about cryptography that are more common; it is neither:
a page introducing beginners to methods of solving different kindsof paper and pencil ciphers,
a page explaining how you can obtain a copy of PGP, ScramDisk, orPrivate Idaho to start protecting your own communications, or
a page devoted to the history of cipher machines, with photographsof various ones.There are links to some of the pages in these categories in theLinks section of this site.Occasionally, some methods of cryptanalysis are briefly touched uponhere, but the details are very limited, compared to the excellent materialavailable elsewhere.
This site has a great deal in common with sites of the third category, butalas, it doesn't include any photographs. What it does have are schematicdiagrams (in my own, somewhat nonstandard symbolism, designed to beeasy to recognize at small sizes) and descriptions of the operation of many historical cipher machines. The story of the Enigma's decryption, derivedfrom a multitude of secondary sources, is, I hope, explained with bothcompleteness and clarity here.It covers forms of cryptography ranging from the simple paper-and-pencilmethods to the modern computer cipher systems, and attempts to pointout the common features that link them.One word of warning, however: I have indulged my own ego rathershamelessly here, and have described a series of block ciphers of my owndesign (under the name of "Quadibloc"; the first one was inspired by DESand Blowfish, although in a way it was the opposite of Blowfish, and theothers are the result of appropriating various ideas found in the AEScandidate ciphers), some paper-and-pencil fancies of mine, and a ratherelaborate fractionation scheme for converting the binary output of modern encryption methods to letters for transmission by Morse, or base-78 armor (more efficient than base-64, if less efficient than base-85), orencryption by classical letter-based methods.In only one section do I discuss, and very briefly, codes, in which words orphrases rather than letters, bits, or digits are the unit of encipherment.However, the word
is used legitimately in mathematics to refer tosubstitutions which are non-linguistic (and hence, in cryptology, would becalled ciphers) from Morse code to Hamming code (used for error-correction) and Huffman code (used for data compression). I have,therefore, been unable to be rigorous about the use of the word "code" inthese pages.Return to Home Page 
Copyright (c) 1998, 1999, 2000, John J. G. Savard
This page is about codes and ciphers, which people use to communicate with each other in ways that other parties cannot (it is hoped) understand. Although secrecy in communication can precede literacy, for example by the use of obscure allusions, a spoken language that is different from theone commonly spoken, a jargon or cant of terms with special or secondary meanings, or a conventionalized way of speaking such as Pig Latin, theefflorescence of many and sophisticated methods of secretcommunications waited for the development of alphabetic writing, whichallows any thought to be represented by a small number of easily manipulated characters.Even then, it took a conceptual breakthrough to realize that letters can berepresented by other symbols; particularly in introductory books on thesubject for children, this is often illustrated by various examples that areused today, such asMorse code,signal flags,Baudot, ASCII, or, as illustrated below, Braille and semaphore:

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