A Tour of Public Key Cryptography (and of Number Theory)

Like other branches of mathematics, number theory has seen many surprising developments in recent years. One of the most surprising is the fact that number theory, long considered the most "useless" of any field of mathematics, has become vital to the development of modern codes and ciphers. We will take a tour of some of these ciphers, focusing on the "public key" ciphers --- ciphers which answer the question "Can two persons who have never had a secret in common, by a public discussion agree upon a common secret?" (Beutelspacher) For perhaps the first time in history, the answer is yes in practical terms. The ideas are very easy to understand, and yet underlie large portions of both modern number theory and modern cryptography.

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Technology Showcase

The Computer Information Sciences Department uses a variety of technology to prepare students for their future careers.  In addition to mainline operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS and Linux, students can develop mobile applications on any of our collection of tablet platforms, including Android, iPad, Windows 8 and Kindle.  Under a site license agreement, IWU computer students can also install Microsoft and Oracle software on their own computers at no cost.

The Department has several Microsoft Kinect 3D cameras which can be used with a variety of applications.  Ben Bagley a 2012 CIS graduate, developed a gesture activated informational banner display which won the “best poster” award at the annual IWU Celebration of Scholarship poster session. We also have a set of Lego Mindstorm NXT robots, which can be programmed in a variety of languages. Linking the robots with Kinect cameras permits the development of robot controllers that can avoid obstacles, locate objects and interact with humans.

(Students Ben Bagley and Micah Hibdon also displayed a poster at Celebration of Scholarship titled “RoboRumble: Human Robot Interaction through Use of the Microsoft Kinect System”.)

A recent addition is a set of Raspberry Pi computers. These credit-card sized computers give ourstudents an opportunity to explore the latest, cutting-edge technology in miniaturized form factors.