Students to unlock codes at CryptoRally


November 6, 2012

“Yllarotpyrc.”

If you wonder what that means, you may need a cryptologist: someone who deciphers secret messages. Alternatively, you could try your own hand solving clues during the CryptoRally, Nov. 10, at ASU’s Tempe campus. Download Full Image

Starting at 10 a.m., teams should be ready to receive their first secret message, or “cipher,” which can be systematically decrypted. Once a team solves the cipher, it will lead them to their next clue. The competition is like a treasure hunt. Prizes will be awarded to the winning team.

There will also be a pizza party after the competition and a cryptology lecture. Everett Howe of the Center for Communications Research, in La Jolla, Calif., will describe how creative use of elliptic curves, which have simple and elegant mathematical properties, has advanced the field of cryptology in recent years. Industry information also will be available.

Cryptology has many real-world applications, foremost among them computer security. The field is critical for obscuring secret messages sent by the CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies. Codes also can package information efficiently, such as the images embedded within radio signals for televisions, and to protect passwords and other information for banking and other industries.

Cryptology can be challenging yet fun, like building up pieces of a puzzle.

“Creativity and good reasoning skills are a must,” says Nancy Childress, event designer and faculty member in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “And one definitely needs to learn the math. The math involved is interesting in its own right and there is a significant amount of current mathematical research related to cryptography.”

The event is sponsored by Apriva, a secure mobile communications company based in Scottsdale.

The CryptoRally will begin in the Physical Sciences A-wing, room 206.

You must register to participate. The registration form is available at: http://math.asu.edu/about-us/crypto-rally-registration.

Free parking on the weekends is offered in the Tyler Street parking structure on McAllister Ave. (to the east of campus) as well as the Stadium structure on Veteran’s Way (to the north of campus). Physical Sciences A is on the northeast corner of Tyler Mall and Palm Walk, which cuts through campus.

If you were still wondering about the word at the beginning of the story, try reading it backwards. The puzzles at the competition will likely be more sophisticated, such as the ciphers described in this link: http://math.la.asu.edu/~nc/ciphers.html.

Written by Ross McBeath

Media contact:

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications

480-965-4823

ASU, USC making the college admissions process easier to navigate


November 6, 2012

Editor's Note: Arizona State football will take on University of Southern California at 1 p.m., Nov. 10, in Los Angeles. Learn more about ASU's collaborations with Pac-12 schools.

One of the key charges of President Barack Obama’s administration is ensuring that every U.S. citizen has the opportunity to obtain higher education. For many students, cost is a big issue when it comes time to decide where to apply. With that in mind, the Obama administration is taking steps to ensure that students “know before they owe.” Download Full Image

One of the ways they hope to accomplish this is through a new development called a “Shopping Sheet” – an individualized standard financial aid letter that will help students understand their costs before making the final decision on where to enroll. Arizona State University and ASU President Michael Crow participated in the consulting group that helped develop the Shopping Sheet, and the university is also among the first set of schools to adopt it.

With the average ratio of students to college counselors in public high schools at about 459 to 1, it is unlikely that all of their questions are being answered. As a result, it becomes imperative for universities to find ways of being more transparent about college costs and the whole application process in general.

The Shopping Sheet makes it easy for students to compare financial aid packages offered by different institutions and also provides a more clear explanation of the costs and responsibilities of student loans, outlining their total estimated annual costs, institutional rates of completion and default, and information about a student’s potential monthly loan payments after graduation. 

Along the same vein, researchers at the University of Southern California have launched a free Facebook game, Mission: Admission, aimed at helping students better understand and navigate the college application process. The game allows students to get a virtual experience of what it’s like to apply for college via a personalized avatar that goes through all the different steps along the way, like meeting with college advisers, choosing which schools to apply to, applying for scholarships and financial aid, and requesting recommendation letters.

The game was created under the umbrella of USC’s Collegeology Games project, which plans to create more games like Mission: Admission that are all designed to help students prepare for college and apply for financial aid.

Ultimately, whether it’s a Shopping Sheet or a Facebook game, the purpose of these tools is to provide students and their families with useful information that can help them make a more informed decision about where to attend college and how to make it more financially viable. 

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657