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UK MT Challenges

Press Release from UK MT Challenge - 

We had an amazing turn out this year, with 177 of you making it through the final. Well done to all of you for an extraordinary performance. Whether you just took part in the practice rounds, or made it to the end, you have all joined that elite team of code breakers who have followed in Turing’s footsteps to tackle the great unknown. It is a fantastic achievement and I hope you will celebrate it in style.

I also hope you will come back next year and try to beat your own performance. If you made it to the end, you can try to be a little faster or a little more accurate next time. If you dropped out at an earlier stage maybe you can get a little further in 2019. As you can see below, some of our top competitors took part for years before winning a prize, and maybe that will be you next time!

But for now, it is my great pleasure to announce the winners of the National Cipher Challenge 2018: The Kompromat Files.

The fastest team are awarded the University of Southampton prize, sponsored by the School of Mathematical Sciences. This year it is awarded to a team known to the world as E.Z.P.Z.L.M.N.S.Q.I.Z, who clearly felt confident from the start! Hailing from Angmering School the team comprises William Towler, and Oliver O’Toole. They used a simulated annealing algorithm to crack 10B. William had been paying close attention to our clues and was certain this would be a Playfair cipher, he writes that the team were “quite shocked to see the Digraphic Index Of Coincidence (used to identify substitutions of two letters – which is what the Playfair does) indicated it was nowhere near a Playfair”. Makes it all worthwhile! An amazingly fast submission from the team sealed top place on the leader board. Ollie and William are both in Year 12, with William studying A-Levels in maths, further maths, computer science, and french, and planning to study Maths at university. Ollie is taking A-Levels in maths, further maths, physics, and chemistry, and is planning to study engineering. 

Just a little behind them we find the team “leaned” from Westminster. Anshu Banerjee, Daniel Kaddaj, Andrew Smith and Luke Remus Elliot used a statistical method to try to guess at keys to the cipher, scoring the result and improving it one step at a time by randomly changing the key. The effectiveness of the method is demonstrated by the fact that it tried only 50,029 keys before cracking the cipher, where the key space had over 10^186 possibilities.  

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