Gregory V. Bard
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Preserving the lookandfeel of the World Wide Web as it was, in 1998.
Cryptograms!
Cryptograms can be great fun for someone interested in mathematics, statistics,
linguistics, or all three. They can be a enjoyable way to pass a snowy afternoon,
or they can be superb inclass activity
or Science Olympiad event.
Below you'll find some resources that I've developed
for those who wish to play around with a few cryptograms.
Here's an example, so that you know what we're talking about:
BCU YSZO TZNXBSGZFXCN TSEUV KZSE GZUUL. BCU YSZO LZNXBSV EUFIV "VUTZUB" FIO
BCU YSZO GZFXCSV RIORTFBUV "YZRBRIG." BCUZUKSZU, TZNXBSGZFXCN RV BCU VTRUITU
SK VUTZUB YZRBRIG. TZNXBSGZFXCN CFV HUUI REXSZBFIB BS IFBRSIFA VUTWZRBN
VRITU BCU UZF SK DWARWV TUFVUZ, YCS CFV F TRXCUZ IFEUO FKBUZ CRE.
Which actually translates into
The word cryptography comes from Greek. The word KRYPTOS means "secret" and
the word GRAPHOS indicates "writing." Therefore, cryptography is the science
of secret writing. Cryptography has been important to national security
since the era of Julius Ceaser, who has a cipher named after him.
Here are some resources for those who would like to play with Cryptograms.
 In collaboration with my colleague Prof. Seth Dutter, the following examples have
been made available for you with an interactive webbased interface.
 This one
is an easy imaginary encrypted telegram.
 This one
is of "normal" difficulty, but with a hint, which makes it easy.
 This one
is of "normal" difficulty.
 This one
is of "normal" difficulty, too.
 This one
is of "normal" difficulty, as well.
 This one
is of "normal" difficulty, yet again.
 This one
is of "normal" difficulty, just like its friends.
 This one
is a hard encrypted telegram, because all the spaces have been taken out.
 This one
is also hard, because all the spaces have been taken out, but you have a hint.
 This one
is just plain hard, because all the spaces have been taken out, and there are no clues.
 You can find many more cryptograms at cryptogram.org,
the webpage of The American Cryptogram Association (the ACA).
 For anyone interested in cryptograms (or the Science Olympiad event) I strongly recommend
the following wonderful book:
 Janet Beissinger and Vera Pless. The Cryptoclub: Using Mathematics to Make and
break Secret Codes, published by CRC Press in 2006.
The National Science Foundation (!) funded the writing of that book. It is the best of its
kind, ideal for 9th grade and up, or motivated 8th graders.
 There is also a blackandwhite workbook to accompany the above, with lots of
additional examples and practice problems.
 I would also recommend the following four books:
 Margaret Cozzens and Steven Miller. The Mathematics of
Encryption: An Elementary Introduction, published by The American Mathematical
Society in 2013. This book covers cryptograms but quickly moves on to mathematical
schemes, such as the affine cipher, the Hill cipher, and RSA.
 Simon Singh. The Code Book: How to Make It, Break It, Hack It,
Crack It, Second Edition, published by "Delacorte Books for Young Readers" in 2002.
This book is ideally suited for young people who find cryptograms to be fun. The book claims
to be good for students in "7th grade and up," but perhaps "9th grade and up" is a more realistic
claim.
 Abraham Sinkov and Todd Feil. Elementary Cryptanalysis:
A Mathematical Approach, 2nd edition, published by the Mathematical Association
of America in 2009. The original was published by the
Mathematical Association of America in 1966, but reprinted many times since. This is a
fairly accessible book, covering a lot of classical codebreaking (such as solving
cryptograms) all the way through onetime pads and RSA, but it is rather readable. The
book assumes modular arithmetic and matrix operations, so a universitylevel course
in Discrete Mathematics is advisable. However, be sure to get the latest edition,
because Todd Feil did a major rewrite, modernizing the notation, and adding several
cryptosystems. Before you buy it, I recommend you make sure that
both authors' names are on the cover.
 Wade Trappe and Larry Washington. Cryptography with Coding
Theory, Second
Edition, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall in 2005. The aim of this book is for the
computer scientist, mathematician, or computer engineer who actually wants to construct
or understand secure cryptographic communications. It starts out with fun and
simple problems (like cryptograms) in Chapter 2, but before Chapter 9 is over you're
well versed in modern, realworld encryption systems such as the RSA algorithm. We
use this book for Math380:
Cryptography here at UWStout. The book should be comprehensible
to a student who has studied no mathematics beyond Calculus iii (or even those
who stopped at Calculus i), yet you'll get a lot more out of it if you've taken
a universitylevel course in Discrete Mathematics.
 Do Not Purchase: Gregory Bard. Algebraic
Cryptanalysis, published by Springer in 2009. I wrote this one myself, but
this book is intended for PhDstudents in mathematics attempting to break realworld modern
ciphers. The TrappeWashington text would be a prerequisite, along with a few 300level
or 400level university mathematics courses.
 There is also the website Puzzle Baron which includes cryptograms, along
with many other fun puzzles.
Last updated August 9th, 2018.
