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Patrick Weadon (NSA)

Keynote Speaker

Time: 6:15 pm on Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Knowledge is Never Too Dear, but Mathematics is Dearer

The first part of the title is a quote from Sir Francis Walsingham who served as principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of England, and is remembered as her "spymaster." William Friedman, the acknowledged father of American cryptology, would no doubt agree with him (Friedman had a more modern but similar take, noting that “Knowledge is Power). Both men however realized that the ability to gain critical knowledge at critical times can often be the difference between victory and defeat.

Walsingham was limited in part by the cryptologic methods available to him at the time. However, Friedman and other cryptologic pioneers, through the auspices of statistical analysis, took the discipline to a higher and more advanced level. The foundation that these individuals established in the 20 th century allowed for numerous cryptologic successes in both peacetime, and more importantly wartime. These achievements allowed the US and its Allies to prevail, and most importantly saved countless lives.

The second portion of the title makes that point that none of the aforementioned successes would have been possible without the work of individuals who were highly skilled in science, technology and most importantly MATHEMATICS.

To quote, the mathematician Shakuntala Devi:
“Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do.
Everything around you is mathematics.
Everything around you is numbers.”

The brief will highlight the lives and contributions of Friedman and other important cryptologic figures who were part of this legacy, and attempt to make the point that while the discipline of mathematics has played an indelible and fundamental role in the past, it is even more important today.