Breaking Enigma the First Time

Enigma was the name given to the cipher machines that the German Armed Forces used to safeguard their communications during World War II. The story of how the Allies broke the Enigma codes (and kept it a secret from the Nazis) is a compelling and important one. The course of the war might have been far different without the vital intelligence gained by reading Enigma messages. However, the breaking of Enigma started with the less known work of three Polish mathematicians, and this will be the focus of this talk.
An actual WWII era Enigma machine will be on display. Audience members are invited to handle it, ask questions and learn how it works.

About the Speaker

David J. Saltman has been the Director of the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, NJ, since 2007. Before his directorship, Dr. Saltman participated in several SCAMPs — the summer programs hosted by IDA’s research centers to resolve really tough problems, sometimes with remarkable success — since 1994.

Dr. Saltman was formerly the Mildred Caldell and Baine Perkins Kerr Centennial Professor of mathematics at the University of Texas, Austin. His work has included studying Noether’s Problem and showing the relation to Galois theory, and giving the first counterexample to this problem over an algebraically closed field. Outside of pure research, he served as algebra editor and managing editor of the Transactions of Mathematics. He also is involved in mathematics education, participating, for example, in a Vertical Teams AP Calculus Project.

Dr. Saltman received his Ph.D. in 1976 from Yale University and worked at both the University of Chicago and Yale before joining the University of Texas in 1982.

David Saltman

The Pi Mu Epsilon lecture series is made possible through the support of the UNL Mathematics Department, the Nebraska Alpha Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon and the Nebraska Math Scholars program.