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John Nash's Declassified 1955 Letter To the NSA 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-borrowed-doc-brown's-delorean dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In 1955, John Nash sent an amazing letter (PDF) to the NSA in order to support an encryption design that he suggested. In it, he anticipates computational complexity theory as well as modern cryptography. He also proposes that the security of encryption can be based on computational hardness and makes the distinction between polynomial time and exponential time: 'So a logical way to classify enciphering processes is by the way in which the computation length for the computation of the key increases with increasing length of the key. This is at best exponential and at worst probably at most a relatively small power of r, ar^2 or ar^3, as in substitution ciphers.'"
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John Nash's Declassified 1955 Letter To the NSA

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  • by iggymanz (596061) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:39PM (#39086705)

    maybe that 1950s IC post was by another anti-space nutter AC, you all look alike you know.

    Those early mainframes didn't use integrated circuits, it took the space program's Apollo Guidance System (1963 - ) to push that.

    Amusing you brought up SAGE, as ICBM are of course part of and intertwined with the story of the space age and space age technology. In fact, I'd say it was downright stupid of your and hurts your arguments terribly.

    We all reap the many benefits of the space program, GPS and weather and geoscience and comm satellites to name a few.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:47PM (#39086775)

    "Yet we tend to shy away from anyone who is "not normal"."

    I believe he was exposed to the invisible realities of evil. Don't watch the movie, read the book, read about his life experiences and about the men with "red" ties.

    There is more to the disease than most know. It's a revealing of the puppets behind this reality, they must be run all the way to hell by the power of Yahweh, and they run when you take the power God offers you.

    The movie glossed over the interesting elements of his life and his disease.

    Open your eyes. "They Live" was not just a movie, it's a warning but laced with subtle occult references if you know where to look, one important note is found as sprayed across a wall and I won't mention it.

    The "norm" is an illusion, controlled by your perception being weaned off of and continued drip of CONTROLLED MEDIA everywhere.

    Neo's "follow the white rabbit" and the medium used in Jumping Jack Flash movie have a unique tie to them.

  • by Eric S. Smith (162) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:48PM (#39087189) Homepage

    Amusing you brought up SAGE, as ICBM are of course part of and intertwined with the story of the space age and space age technology. In fact, I'd say it was downright stupid of your and hurts your arguments terribly.

    Well trolled! For those playing along at home, SAGE [] was for spotting and intercepting bombers.

  • by stevedog (1867864) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:15PM (#39088281)
    You are right in the sense he should not be "congratulated" for his illness. However, I would take caution before labeling the creativity and the illness as "true and true, but unrelated." By modern criteria, he very well may have had bipolar disorder with psychotic features (he did get diagnosed with schizophrenia, but back then so did everyone else who "acted crazy" -- delusions and psychosis fairly commonly accompany severe bipolar as we diagnose it nowadays). If so, then actually his periods of brilliance would have actually been his (already highly talented) brain building up and progressively overactivating to generate an immense sense of clarity and focus (the common description of the initial stages of mania) prior to devolving into the disorganization, delusions, and often bizarre behaviors of full mania (with or without psychosis, depending on the person).

    In fact, this is exactly what makes bipolar so hard to treat -- it is basically like a drug, in that the "highs" can result in great success (and, even independent of the happiness about that success, it causes euphoria as well), but the destruction that occurs as a result of the behavior during those highs (as well as the severely depressed lows that often follow) generally end up tearing a person's world apart. Even so, the person often cannot see this and will completely refuse treatment, because (like a drug) they are basically addicted to their condition, and with the delusions of grandeur that often accompany the disorder further exaggerating (in their own mind) those periods of success... who wouldn't be?

    That's why it might be worthwhile to take pause before laughing people like Charlie Sheen off the stage. 10 days after John Nash wrote this letter, once his brain had accelerated just a little bit further and beyond the boundaries of organized thought, Nash may very well have been just as "bi-winning," and merely had it manifest in a slightly different way.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:25PM (#39089165) Homepage

    What Nash seems to be describing is a feedback shift register. [] This has potential as a cryptosystem, but isn't a very good one. As the NSA pointed out, it "affords only limited security".

    When Nash wrote this, Friedman [] had already developed the theory that allowed general cryptanalysis of rotor-type machines. But that was still highly classified. Friedman, of course, was responsible for breaking the Japanese "Purple" cypher, plus many others. Before Friedman, cryptanalysis was about guessing. After Friedman, it was about number crunching.

    Friedman was the head cryptanalyst at NSA at the time. Within NSA, it would have been known that a linear feedback shift register was a weak key generator. So this idea was, properly, rejected. At least NSA looked at it. Friedman's hard line on that subject was "No new encryption system is worth looking at unless it comes from someone who has already broken a very hard one."

    The fact that a problem is NP-hard isn't enough to make it a good key generator. The Merkle-Hellman knapsack cryptosystem [], the first public-key cryptosystem published, is based on an NP-hard problem. But, like many NP-hard problems, it's only NP-hard in the worst case. The average case is only P-hard. (Linear programming problems, and problems which can be converted to a linear programming problem, are like that.) So that public-key system was cracked.

    We still don't have cryptosystems which are provably NP-hard for all cases. Factoring and elliptic curves are as good as it gets, and there's still the possibility that a breakthrough could make factoring easy.