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Bletchley Park Codebreaker Honored

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the after-due-consideration dept.

The Military 57

Rambo Tribble writes "England has awarded Raymond Roberts, one of the nine cryptanalysts responsible for breaking the Nazi Tunny code machine, (also known by the German designation Lorenz cipher machine) the MBE. Roberts is the last surviving member of the team which cracked the German army's cipher machine functionality, much like others at Bletchley broke the better-known Enigma machine."

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Seriously (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419607)

Who gives a fuck?

Re:Seriously (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419617)

Porn stars. They give lots of fuck.

Re:Seriously (-1, Offtopic)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42419639)

LOL, I was under the impression they exchanged money for the "performance"... so they sell a fuck.

Re:Seriously (1)

cgimusic (2788705) | about 2 years ago | (#42419693)

No, prostitutes sell a fuck, porn stars just licence one for distribution in video form.

Re:Seriously (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42422015)

:-D

Re:Seriously (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419741)

Do NOT consfuse nymphos with prostitutes.

Re:Seriously (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42422007)

WFT are you replying to?!??

Re:Seriously (4, Insightful)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 2 years ago | (#42419695)

Who gives a fuck?

Anyone with an interest in history, technology, mathematics, and honoring under-recognized individuals who made a crucial contribution to society. Clearly not you.

Re:Seriously (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42425103)

I took cyrptography in university. Busting codes is a sonofabitch. The reason that the NSA and others utilize rubber hose cryptography is because busting codes is a sonofabitch. What is rubber hose cryptography? An example can be found here [xkcd.com] . Reasons for R.H.C.? Well there are several. One is that if there is plausible deniability (they beat the information out of you), then the 'other side' will continue to use the same cryptographic system, meaning you don't have to do any new work. Another reason is that there is national pride at stake. We want to know, and you will tell us. Another reason is that sometimes the people who take these jobs are ...um... sadists. They get off beating the shit out of someone for any reason at all. Cracking codes is like doing a hard math proof. It might take dozens to hundreds of kicks at the cat, and you don't really know if you are going in the right direction until you get to the end. Its a crapload of work on the way. The work these cryptographers saved tens of thousands of lives, and shortened the war by 2-5 years. Until they get a tiny splash in the paper, they are unknown, and nameless and faceless. If you kill 20, you get 'highest honours in the land, victory parade, schools named after you, etc. Save 20,000-50,000.... and you get a one-time splash in the paper.... 70 years after the fact....and some idiots going 'meh'.

Re:Seriously (1)

Revek (133289) | about 2 years ago | (#42419757)

Who gives a fuck?

Nymphos?

Re:Seriously (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419765)

People who's lives were saved because of this, dickface.

What, is it not moe or call of duty enough for you? Go back to high school, chump.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419777)

As a nazi german, I am very offended!

Re:Seriously (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420095)

I met a NAZI filth once. I stabbed him in the face with a knife. I went to cut his balls off, but found that they had already been removed. Next step, dropping him in acid and dissolving all his DNA so he can't be cloned.

Fuck NAZI filth. Let's send them all to hell!

should have been a knighthood (5, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 years ago | (#42419699)

Seriously, given that the UK probably would not exist today if not for this man's work, an MBE is too little too late.

Stop overrating the guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419801)

Seriously, he's one of many mathemathicians working on one of many German ciphers during the war. To say that UK would lose if not for him isn't even a stretch, it's plain bullshit.

And i'm not trying to downplay this man's contribution. Perhaps he deserves a knighthood for what it was. But it wasn't even close to solely influence the outcome of war.

Re:Stop overrating the guy (2)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about 2 years ago | (#42420029)

Bletchley Park could have probably gotten by without any one or two of the code breakers, but as a group they had a significant effect on the course of WWII, and thus deserve these honours. If the people at Bletchley Park had not been as successful as they were it is possible that WWII in Europe would have lasted a lot longer than it did. It is also quite plausible that the European portion of the war would have ended with the Soviet Union extending to the Atlantic.

Re:Stop overrating the guy (3, Informative)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#42421731)

Bletchley Park could have probably gotten by without any one or two of the code breakers,

While most of the work they did could have gone on fairly uninterrupted with the loss of any one particular person, there are some specific counter-examples. Tuttle [wikipedia.org] took over researching a german goof in using their Lorenz set that had stumped a team there for three months, and single-handedly identified a 41 character patten that led to the breaking of Lorenz [wikipedia.org] . Without his accident/brilliance, Lorenz either would have lasted much longer, or possibly never been broken by Bletchley. (that member that was interviewed speculated the Lorenz's early break had shortened the war by 2 years, saving 20,000,000 lives)

While this is the only specific example I can quickly quote, I would wager there are at least a handful of other points in Bletchley's history that hinged on a single member coming through with a hail-mary for the team.

Reminder: Alan Turing year (2)

saibot834 (1061528) | about 2 years ago | (#42419715)

While probably somewhat known among Slashdotters, I think it is worthwhile to remind people of Alan Turing [wikipedia.org] , mathematician, logician, WWII code breaker and father of computer science (as well as being a victim of cruel injustice by the state).

He's unfortunately by far less recognized than people like Steve Jobs (probably because turing machines don't have rounded corners by design). It's a bit like the story of Tesla vs. Edison [theoatmeal.com] . One was a genius scientist, the other one an asshat making lots of money, without contributing nearly as much to the field, but still being more famous and celebrated.

Re:Reminder: Alan Turing year (2)

muddysteel (1404041) | about 2 years ago | (#42419753)

*LOTS* of people should get recognized for work related to crypto. Then again - if you're any good at it, chances are there are groups who would rather you didn't get recognition.

Re:Reminder: Alan Turing year (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#42419949)

The reason Turing was persecuted by the state, though, and the reason that a lot of people don't want to recognize him even now, is that he was privately homosexual. For many, that outweighs being key to defeating the Nazis, which is simply a shame.

Re:Reminder: Alan Turing year (3, Interesting)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42420639)

Turing is not getting knighted because he's dead, not because he was homosexual.

Re:Reminder: Alan Turing year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42431933)

Yes, but he's not recieving a posthumous pardon because he was homosexual.

Yes, yes, I know some MPs mostly members of the Tory far right spun it as it being a genuine conviction at the time, but that argument is nonsensical and inconsistent as those still living who were convicted can have the conviction scrubbed, and we have similarly pardoned other people who committed crimes at the time.

I know it wasn't your point, but let's just make it clear at least that bigotry still plays a massive part in modern politics over issues like this, you only have to look at the gay marriage debate where you'll find the usual suspect on the farthest right Tory wings and a few Labour oddballs which no suprisingly intersect with those who are anti-EU for no actual genuine reason other than they love imperialism/hate foreigners.

Even today there is heavy resistance against better remembering people like Turing, and against treating homosexuals equally for no other reason than a bunch of MPs who, if they were alive during Turing's time, would probably have been the first to jump in bed with the Nazis, because their views align well.

Re:Reminder: Alan Turing year (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42422043)

Anal sex, golden shower, or not, Alan Turing made a (more than) great contribution to our society. Whatever anyone can propagate, this truth is alive in me.

Re:Reminder: Alan Turing year (3, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 2 years ago | (#42422327)

One important thing worth noting was that Turing's clearance would've been removed even if homosexuality hadn't been a crime at the time. As the Enigma was still being used by the soviets and there were big examples of blackmail being used to get information. People who'd had affairs or held other secrets that would publicly embarrass or shame them also had their clearance removed.

There's also not terribly good evidence he committed suicide. He was known for handling toxic chemicals in a dangerous manner, didn't seem to be suicidal (his life was improving and getting back on track), didn't leave a note and chose a rather odd method for suicide. His family members are all convinced it was an accident.

Reminder - there's more than cryptography. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#42424239)

While probably somewhat known among Slashdotters

Less well known among Slashdotters, in fact among anyone who isn't a serious historian, is the enormous amount of work that wasn't cryptography. There's Huff-Duff. There's the enormous amount of what would be called data-mining today - the cataloging and indexing of all that data so it could be correlated and compared. There's all of the operational research based on that correlation and those comparisons. There's tons of weapons and tactical development based on that research...

The cryptographers were only the tip of a very, very big iceberg. And sometimes... I think they get an unfair share of the credit. Without all those others turning cryptographic intelligence into something the guys on the pointy end could use... there wouldn't have been any point. Abstract data decrypted days or weeks later is cool, but it's ordinance on target that wins wars.

"You can put ', Esq.' after your name now!" (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#42419747)

Whew! They achieved the same as the Beatles.

Re:"You can put ', Esq.' after your name now!" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420123)

I am called "George Marvelous Esq.", but you can call me Mr Marvelous.

You do realize that the Esq. and the Mr. are in most of the world equivalent for all intents and purposes.

Re:"You can put ', Esq.' after your name now!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42422089)

Like CCR is better than the Beatles???

Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419819)

I found your blog website on google and check several of your early posts. Continue to keep up the really very good operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to reading much more from you later on!?
http://rifkiassudaisi.org/

Re:Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419859)

Slashdot is a blog? That would explain a lot of things. Or not.

Re:Good (-1, Offtopic)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42422109)

Slashdot used to be about nerds, and about stuff that matters. Today, the market dictates is HAS to be a "News in general, stuff that gets eyeballs" cause they just been sold to another corporate entity. Rinse and repeat for any other corporation or takeover PR strategy.

CIPHER breakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419905)

Code: The Eagle Has Landed
Cipher: HEUW MJDS SYNA KIHH NDPV

Breaking Tunny (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about 2 years ago | (#42419971)

Tunny was broken because of a test message that had to be resent, and was re-encoded with the same key. The cryptographer was bored, and he made some abbreviations in the second encoding (which was manually typed). That put them out of phase, which meant that the message could be broken in crab-fashion. (Guess a word in the cipher text. If you are correct that gives you a little of the key and thus the decryption of the same block of characters in the other text. That, if you are lucky, will reveal another word, which gives more characters in the second text, which yields more in the first, making the entire decrypt fairly straightforward once you get going.) Breaking that message was enough to reveal how the machine worked, it was reverse engineered, and in operational use it was broken by computer basically from the start.

All of this because one operator got sloppy on one test message that wasn't even intrinsically important anyway. But, i think it is fair to say that more crypto is broken by sloppiness than by advanced math (not that the math might not be useful in exploiting the break).

Re:Breaking Tunny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42421847)

Here's the thing. Although they had deciphered the code, Churchill would not let on that they had, and he allowed a planned attack, i.e. a bombing to occur, with massive casualties to the civilian population. Britain still won the war.

Re:Breaking Tunny (1)

TwobyTwo (588727) | about 2 years ago | (#42422077)

Read Jack Copeland's book [amazon.com] and I think you'll see that some quite remarkable math and perseverance was involved in exploiting the German telex operator's slip up. (Copeland's book is terrific).

What MBE stands for? (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#42419989)

Using my google de-encryption method, the MBE Acronym appears to stand for the "Multi State Bar Exam" - a degree for Yankee lawyers practicing across state lines. Why on earth did they give that to this poor gentleman?

Re:What MBE stands for? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42420251)

Using my google de-encryption method, the MBE Acronym appears to stand for the "Multi State Bar Exam" - a degree for Yankee lawyers practicing across state lines. Why on earth did they give that to this poor gentleman?

Welcome to the search filter bubble. [ted.com]

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42420409)

Forgive the self reply, I was a bit hasty. For illustrative reference, I too searched google and this is MY first result: Order of the British Empire [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42420489)

::yawn:: Whilst my coffee is brewing I've made you this screenshot of said search [vortexcortex.com] , because "pics or it didn't happen". I'm a Northern Yank transplanted to Houston, but I like British comedy, so maybe that's what it's picking up in my case.

Re:What MBE stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42425397)

None of the links on that page work :(

Re:What MBE stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420325)

Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MBE

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

anwaya (574190) | about 2 years ago | (#42420385)

MBE stands for Member of the British Empire. It's the lowest of 5 ranks in the Order of the British Empire.

Re:What MBE stands for? (2)

BertieBaggio (944287) | about 2 years ago | (#42420455)

MBE stands for Member of the British Empire. It's the lowest of 5 ranks in the Order of the British Empire.

(emphasis mine)

And also why the leader "England has awarded Raymond Roberts" is a trifle inaccurate. Never mind anthropomorphising a country; like computers, they hate that.

Re:What MBE stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420971)

Also the correct metonym should be the United Kingdom, not England.

Re:What MBE stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42421397)

MBE stands for Member of the British Empire. It's the lowest of 5 ranks in the Order of the British Empire.

(emphasis mine)

Actually, it is Member of the (Most Excellent) Order of the British Empire.

Re:What MBE stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42422037)

Hate to be cynical but since there is going to be a referendum on Scottish independence in two years time, there has been an upsurge of British nationalism in particular interest in all things WW2. I can't help but thinking these 'outsiders' are a bit more perceptive than we 'Brits' make them out to be?

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 2 years ago | (#42422449)

And its the plebs gong surprising would have thought an ex civil servant of his grade he should have rated higher - probably the old boys network doing the greasy engineers down again.

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#42432133)

Yes, and to put those ranks into context, our old local council leader got a CBE (the next rank up AFAIK) for "Services to local government" when those services involved getting it £27million into debt during the boom and times of highest funding, before he left to get paid even more to fuck up another council elsewhere.

So in other words, getting an MBE is a bit like being told you're just beneath someone who is highly incompetent and arguably even extremely corrupt.

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42420651)

It stands for "people different from you"

Re:What MBE stands for? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#42420869)

It's an Honor bestowed on individuals, military or civilians, who have demonstrated service in the spirit of the Order of the British Empire's motto: "For God and Empire!"

Like, Sir Jimmy Saville, for his "work with children."

Or, Sir Anthony Blunt, for his "service" to British Intelligence.

Although, there have been allegations made in notable British periodicals, such as "The Economist" and "Viz", that monetary contributions to political parties may also have some influence in the matter.

For Sir Raymond Roberts, this Honor was clearly bestowed for merit.

public/private (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420637)

I remember a talk about Bletchley Park where I asked whether the germans had any codebreaking work. I still have not heard nor seen a word of it anywhere at all. Maybe the keyword "private" in C++/Java should be in German?

Re:public/private (3, Interesting)

NF6X (725054) | about 2 years ago | (#42420961)

I remember a talk about Bletchley Park where I asked whether the germans had any codebreaking work. I still have not heard nor seen a word of it anywhere at all.

I read an account recently about German cryptanalysis of the US M-209 machine [wikipedia.org] , which happens to be one of my favorites [nf6x.net] . I don't remember where I read it, though. I'll reply again if I find the link before my mind wanders too far. It is my understanding that Allied forces were aware that Germany could break the M-209 cipher, but used it for low-level traffic because the machine was so convenient for widespread field use, where we wouldn't want to risk capture of our higher level cryptosystems. Low-level tactical information often is only of value to an enemy for a short period of time; i.e., a message about a small troop movement that will happen in an hour isn't very useful the following day after it has already happened. Thus, if you believe that your enemy requires a day to break one of your codes, that code can still be useful for messages that would only be of value to them for a few hours.

If I recall correctly, Germany did do codebreaking work against the Allies, but didn't achieve the same level of success that the Allies did against their codes.

If you would like to try your hand at cryptanalysis of the M-209 and related machines, take a look at this ongoing M-209 Crypto Challenge [jfbouch.fr] . I solved the first problem in the series, but then had to quit working on the challenge because of other stuff that came up. I may go back and work through the other problems when I have some free time.

Re:public/private (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42421423)

If I recall correctly, Germany did do codebreaking work against the Allies, but didn't achieve the same level of success that the Allies did against their codes.

Probably because the Germans had what was it? nine seperate codebreaking organisations which spent most of their time fighting each other.

And can we really imagine the Third Reich allowing gays and women to take part in such secret work?

Richly deserved recognition for Capt. Jerr Roberts (5, Interesting)

TwobyTwo (588727) | about 2 years ago | (#42422067)

I have had the great pleasure of corresponding with Captain Roberts over the past couple of years. Not only did he and his team make an extraordinary contribution to winning WWW II, he has worked tirelessly since the declassification of the Tunny work to get recognition for the many others who contributed heroically and anonymously. It's quite amazing to talk with someone who had the experience of decrypting Adolph Hitler's personal communications, hours after they were sent. Note that most of the work done by Capt. Roberts and his team was done by hand. Colossus eventually helped with some steps, but not at first, and even then many steps remained to be done manually. At 92 Capt. Roberts remains very engaged and passionate about the work done at Bletchley. If there's a concern, it's that he should have been recognized for his work then, as well as for his recent publicity efforts, and one can make the case that MBE doesn't nearly recognize the magnitude of his contribution. Congratulations, Jerry!

Re:Richly deserved recognition for Capt. Jerr Robe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42424437)

A minor slip, not WWW II but WW II.

Peter Higgs (1)

Martin Spamer (244245) | about 2 years ago | (#42428287)

Peter Higgs was awarded the Companion of Honour [guardian.co.uk] but he was the exception to the rule, Scientists and Engineers are routinely ignored in favour of those with a large media profile such as Sports stars and Fashion designers.

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