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Nerding out: RSA on an iPython Notebook

July 25, 2014

Yesterday was a day filled with secrets and codes. In the morning, at The Platform, we had guest speaker Columbia history professor Matthew Connelly, who came and talked to us about his work with declassified documents. Two big and slightly depressing take-aways for me were the following:

  • As records have become digitized, it has gotten easy for people to get rid of archival records in large quantities. Just press delete.
  • As records have become digitized, it has become easy to trace the access of records, and in particular the leaks. Connelly explained that, to some extent, Obama’s harsh approach to leakers and whistleblowers might be explained as simply “letting the system work.” Yet another way that technology informs the way we approach human interactions.

After class we had section, in which we discussed the Computer Science classes some of the students are taking next semester (there’s a list here) and then I talked to them about prime numbers and the RSA crypto system.

I got really into it and wrote up an iPython Notebook which could be better but is pretty good, I think, and works out one example completely, encoding and decoding the message “hello”.

The underlying file is here but if you want to view it on the web just go here.

  1. July 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Are you really going to let Obama get off that easy? I’d say it’s as simple as Obama being a lying coward. The way the system is built, he can pardon anyone that he wants.

    • July 25, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Didn’t mean to sound like I am letting him off easy!! It is not at all convincing to hear someone say “the technology made me do it.” I just meant that is probably what he would say.

  2. glovideoglovideo
    July 25, 2014 at 10:10 am

    melissa I believe this will make it easier to rewrite history. help xxo glo

  3. July 25, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I’m working at All Girls/All Math in Lincoln, NE, and we talked about RSA yesterday. As I’m trying this, the girls are encrypting a message that they will soon realize is the start of a scavenger hunt for another group (once they start decrypting a message…)!

    Yay crypto nerds. :)

  1. July 26, 2014 at 9:14 am
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