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The Princeton Companion to Mathematics by Imre Leader, June Barrow-Green, Timothy Gowers

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VII.07 Mathematics and Cryptography

Clifford Cocks

1 Introduction and History

Cryptography is the science of hiding the meaning or content of communications. The aim is that an adversary who sees a message only in its enciphered state cannot make sense of or derive useful information from what is seen. On the other hand, the intended recipient must be able to decipher the true meaning. For most of history cryptography has been an art practiced seriously only by a few—such as governments for military and diplomatic communications—for whom the consequences of unauthorized disclosure of information are damaging enough to justify the expense and inconvenience of enciphering messages. Recently this has changed: one of the results of the information ...

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