Student codebreakers recognized

Kryptos logo

Two teams of University of Washington Bothell students were recognized in an international codebreaking contest, also known as cryptanalysis of ciphers or secret writing.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Jennifer McLoud-Mann says they took part in the Kryptos contest, which is organized by Central Washington University and conducted online over four days each April.

Contestants are given three challenges, each with a brief scenario together with an encoded message. Using clues in the scenario or ciphertext, the goal is to discover the original English message in plain text.

This year, 205 undergraduate students in 92 teams competed. Forty-eight teams were deemed master codebreakers, proficient codebreakers or amateur codebreakers, based on whether they solved all three, two or one of the challenges.

One UW Bothell team solved two of the three challenges. The team is made up of Wendy Coll, education secondary middle level math major; and two computer science and software engineering majors, Sam Williams and Keith McAfee.

The other UW Bothell team solved one of the challenges. The team is made up of 
Caleb Yang, a computer science and software engineering major, and Megan Bean, math major.

The Kryptos competition was developed by Central Washington University mathematics professor Stuart Boersma, and his colleague, Cheryl Beaver, a Western Oregon University mathematics professor.

The contest is sponsored by the Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America.
Read all the results from the Kryptos 2016 contest.