The Comedy of Errors in Cryptology

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Friedrich L. Bauer

„That we managed to stay in the game until the end of the war was made possible only by a comedy of errors committed by the Germans“ wrote Gordon Welchman, who was, alongside Alan Turing, one of the outstanding contributors to the success of the British during the Second World War. He was one of the many scientists working to crack the code of the encoding device ENIGMA used by the German armed forces, but equally well one could name Max Newman in this context, in particular with respect to the Lorenz device … Mistakes were made not only by the designers of the encoding devices, but also by undisciplined users.

The lecture will portray the interplay between the cryptographer who deems his code unbreakable, and the cryptanalyst who pursues his aim cunningly and tenaciously – a game in which the scales dip sometimes to one side and then again to the other.