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Cracking Crypto To Get Into College

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the we-have-another-task-for-you dept.

Education 373

Kallahar writes "New Scientist is running a story about a Canadian university who had students break an encrypted message in order to get into college. A good idea to grab a good student, but here in 'Free' America these kids would have been thrown in jail for violating the DMCA ..."

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373 comments

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Clean your vulva today. (-1, Offtopic)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880516)

Douche, you slut.

1st ASCII Dick Post!! (-1, Offtopic)

Big_Ass_Spork (446856) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880521)

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| á | á\ á á \ á á á á á á á á á á |
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k á á | á á á á á á á á á á á \ á_> ák
o á á | á á á á _ _ _ _ á á á á| á / áo
f á á | á á á á/_v_v_v_\..---""'`-' á f
f á á | á __,,.| |_| | | á á á á á á áf
| á á / á \ á á\_h_h_h_/ á á á á á á á|
j á á| á á | á á á á á á á á á á áj
a á á| á á | á á á á á á á á á á á á a
c á |\ á á | á á á á á á á á á á á á c
k á | \___/ á á á á á á á á á á á á k
o á | á á á á á á á á á á á á á á áo
f á | á á á á á á á á á á á á á á á f
f á | á á á á á á á á á á á á á á á f
| á | á á á á á á á á á á á á á á á|
+- j a c k - o f f - j a c k - o f f -+

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NATION UNDER ATTACK PLEASE READ (-1, Offtopic)

Frank White (515786) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880625)

Terrorists have attacked again. The White House, the Capitol Building, and the United Nations building are in ruins. Reports of further attacks in Chicago and Los Angeles are unconfirmed. President Bush and Vice President Cheney are believed dead in the White House destruction and Dennis Hastert has claimed the presidency. Nuclear strikes have been launched by the United States military against the Phillipines and Iraq. Martial law has been declared and mass media have agreed under force to continue normal programming. News web sites including Slashdot have agreed to use their moderation system to silence anyone discussing the attacks. Yahoo.com refused to abide by the decision and was shut down by the military. (Try to visit them if you need proof.) Know the truth! Do not be silenced in the crisis!

Re:NATION UNDER ATTACK PLEASE READ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880658)

he is right! my modem is trying to eat my brain!

Poisoned ninja dart to the neck! (-1, Offtopic)

Discount_Ninja_Troll (552813) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880691)

F00l! You cannot defeat the ever-present force of the NINJA! I kill you and claim your first post in the name of the Koga clan! hahahahahaha

Congratulations (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880695)

Excellent first post sir. Just as the average woman today desperately needs to clean her filthy vagina, humanity needs to rid itself of its impure elements, such as the niggers and the jews.

What a cool idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880519)

I've thought for a long time these people should be hired and put to work. I mean really, they have a gift. Exploit it!

Re:What a cool idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880530)

Fag.

Re:What a cool idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880540)

dragqueen

Re:What a cool idea (1)

fostware (551290) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880685)

"Exploit" is such a bad choice of words :P

Re:What a cool idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880708)

maybe he/she should have said

profit from

The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff up (-1, Troll)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880522)

these kids would have been thrown in jail for violating the DMCA

shut up timothy - the DMCA doesn't apply when the copyright holder asks you to break the encryption.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (3, Insightful)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880533)

shut up timothy - the DMCA doesn't apply when the copyright holder asks you to break the encryption.

You mean like when Professor Felten was threatened because he met the challenge to break SDMI? Oh wait...

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (4, Informative)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880558)

You mean like when Professor Felten was threatened because he met the challenge to break SDMI?

Proffesor Felten was threatened when he attempted to publish his results - The specific charge, as I recall, was distribution of a circumvention device. This is different, one notable difference being that most universities won't try to sue you for entering their contest.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880664)

The specific charge, as I recall, was distribution of a circumvention device.

You don't recall correctly. There was no specific charge. Vague threats were made, and they were dropped.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (2, Informative)

themassiah (80330) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880562)

He wasn't threatened when he broke it or because he broke it. He was threatened because he was going to do the un-American (un-Corporate?) thing and turn down the money instead to publish a paper on the subject [which he subsequently did present].
Disclosure of procedure is different than just doing something.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (3, Informative)

jockm (233372) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880534)

shut up timothy - the DMCA doesn't apply when the copyright holder asks you to break the encryption.

It is worth pointing out that Timothy isn't the one who made that comment. It was the submitter, Kallahar...

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (1)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880542)

Oops - Mea culpa

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880571)

Way to go moron, maybe you should learn the difference between the submitted text, and the person who posted it, fuckhead.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880551)

Timothy makes the exact same comments in every story he posts. It might as well have been him, I for one am sick of listening to his dribble.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (-1, Flamebait)

bellings (137948) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880636)

It is worth pointing out that Timothy isn't the one who made that comment. It was the submitter, Kallahar...

Yeah, Timothy is just a mindless dumbass, posting anything and everything submitted, without any oversight or thought.

No, wait, he's a Slashdot editor. Same thing, really.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (1)

dytin (517293) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880541)

Hey hey, there's no need to bash Timothy. Kallahar is the one that said you'd get thrown into jail. Timothy just posted Kallahar's submission.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880546)

shut up haruharaharu !

DMCA is bad everyone knows it except you.... idiot

USA is not free, accept it or change it, dont stay in denial

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (0, Troll)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880547)

Tell that to the RIAA/SDMI.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (1)

b0r1s (170449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880567)

they never said you werent allowed to break it.

they merely said you werent allowed to PUBLISH your solution.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (4, Interesting)

Cato the Elder (520133) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880548)

Of course, since it was just an encoded mathematical problem, I doubt they even bothered to copyright it. And it was the poster, not the editor, who made the stupid comment. I still would argue that the flambait line should of have been removed, but hey. Too bad you can't mod stories.

The idea sounds interesting, but kinda gimmicky. Especially with a scholarship for speed--with a problem it took 30 minute for _New_Scientist_ to solve (or did I misread something) that seems a bit silly. Now, waiving the application fee for anyone who solves it, that seems a more commensurate prize.

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (4, Redundant)

isomeme (177414) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880588)

The DMCA doesn't apply when the copyright holder asks you to break the encryption.
Tell that to Felten [slashdot.org] .

(And yes, the RIAA backed off...but the threat was credible enough that it left the lingering possibility that someone could be prosecuted under the DMCA for breaking encryption when invited to do so, if the inviter disapproves of what they do with the information afterwards.)

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (-1)

DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880652)

What does run DMC have to do with any of this?

Re:The DMC is bad enough - you needn't make stuff (1)

xtremex (130532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880692)

American Corporations are NOT American. They are the most UNamerican thig there is! Corporations aren't patriots, they are GLOBALISTS, thats why they allow third worlders in to take jobs. To BREAK the wage.
They couldnt care less about our country. If they did, they wouldnt ALLOW third worlders to take American jobs. Why should they pay an American citizen $100,000 as a UNIX SA, when a third wolrd foreigner will do it for $30,000?

DMCA (-1, Flamebait)

_Bean_ (128235) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880526)

"but here in 'Free' America these kids would have been thrown in jail for violating the DMCA .."

You are a moron.

Watch out for the lava! (-1)

the_furies (541751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880532)

Recently a whole village in the Congo was destroyed by a lava flow! Why do you suppose the villagers built their homes so close to an active volcano?

Re:Watch out for the lava! (-1, Offtopic)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880582)

Fertile land.

Re:Watch out for the lava! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880611)

HAHA you just made me crap my pants laughing. Keep up the good work!

Everything else will be a variation... (-1, Offtopic)

cyril3 (522783) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880537)

of cool, it's not illegal or you're a moron.

Next topic please. This ones done.

Entrapment (0, Troll)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880545)

Following that train of thinking, I imagine the FBI will be setting up accounts on all the popular messenger programs, sending people illegal data, and arresting them if the file transfer completes.

Doesn't make you a good student (4, Insightful)

gtaluvit (218726) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880549)

Just because you broke some method of encryption doesn't necessarily make you a good computer science student. What about good design or object oriented techniques? How about math skills and knowledge of discrete mathmatics and its relation to programing language design?

Since I know scripting languages, am I an elite hacker?

Since I can install linux, am I a sys admin?

Since I can make brownies am I Wolfgang Puck?

IMHO breaking the encryption doesn't mean too much.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (5, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880563)

Breaking encryption would imply good mathematical knowledge and higher reasoning.

I think this is a good basis for a scholarship and admission. Most other scholarships and admissions are based on self-written essays. At least it is less subjective.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (1)

gtaluvit (218726) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880585)

True, the article doesn't really state what the actual encoding was. However, it may be something that could be brute forced, it might be something that requires that knowledge, or it could just be ROT13.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (3, Informative)

nathanh (1214) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880702)

I'm no genius but it took me 30 seconds to decipher the code. It's base 4 with the letters numbered consecutively.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (2, Interesting)

Boiling_point_ (443831) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880629)

Setting a world-realistic problem as an entrance/scholarship test is fair enough, but the implementation here sounds pretty unfair.

The article states that New Scientist took 30 minutes to decode it - since the scholarship went to the first person to email a correct answer to the university, I fail to see how this differs substantially from "first post" trolling.

Education should not be a gimmick.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (1)

feelafel (228034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880710)

The scholarship, in fact, does not go to the first person with a correct solution. Anyone who meets the contest regs (ie: student, 16-19 years of age, not residing in Quebec) and submits a correct answer is entered into a draw for one of three scholarships.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (2, Funny)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880713)

And for everyone who didnt bother to read the article:
One hundred other students who also managed to decode and figure out the problem were offered a place on the computer science course at the university.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880574)

Isn't that why they're going to college, to learn all that stuff? How much do you expect high-school kids to know, anyway?

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (1)

gtaluvit (218726) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880599)

They don't need to know everything, but I'd rather accept a student with a general understanding of computing than just a math whiz. From the curriculum I went through in college for Software Engineering, we cover authentication and encryption about 10 weeks out of 5 years.

You missed the point... (5, Insightful)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880620)

The point of college is to learn the things you have mentioned. Does filling out a college application or writing an entrance essay make you a good CS student? No. It just demonstrates your ability to perform a task involving some thought. Does breaking an encrypted message make you a good CS? No, of course not. But, it DOES show that you have strong skills in mathematics and analytical logic. Don't be so silly in jumping to conclusions.

Re:Doesn't make you a good student (5, Funny)

cscx (541332) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880631)

Since I know scripting languages, am I an elite hacker?

Since I can install linux, am I a sys admin?

Isn't that the general consensus around here?

Ummmm (3, Funny)

tswinzig (210999) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880553)

See, these people write in with links to articles, and they write a summary of the article and usually throw in their opinion. Those parts are italicized. Then an editor approves the story and sometimes they make comments themselves.

And sometimes they don't make comments. Like this time.

So, I think you owe timothy an apology.

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880586)

The "No Score +1 Bonus" button is there for a reason. Just thought you'd like to know.

Disclaimer? (1)

Tigris666 (197729) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880554)

here in 'Free' America these kids would have been thrown in jail for violating the DMCA

All he'd need is a valid disclaimer. If he is creating his own crypt method then he just needs to say that it's ok to break it. Surely?

I think it's a good idea. Maybe at the wrong level though. I mean crack the code to get a place at uni? Should be more like crack the code to get a job, not to get into a school.

America... (0, Flamebait)

kanayo (311491) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880555)

The land of the "free".

Re:America... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880597)

That was fucking genius. Did you think before spewing that?

Clarify (2, Funny)

1g$man (221286) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880613)

Do you mean "free as in beer" or "free as in speech?"

Re:Clarify (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880651)

Bah, I don't like beer....

If it's "free as in vodka" I'm moving!

Re:Clarify (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880655)

Free as is "shut and give me all your money or I'll shot you, punk".

American universities (2, Insightful)

DeltaStorm (118517) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880557)

I wish that more universities in the US did this. It would help distinguish those that are intelligent from those that leaned over the shoulders of the intelligent.

Re:American universities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880608)

Someone's jealous that they were smart but did badly because they refused to put in any effort. It's so funny when those "smart" kids that got 1600s on their SATs are failing out of state schools, don't you think?

Re:American universities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880678)

I don't even think many of them are that smart, they just think they do. Most of the people who think that know how to program, not solve problems. A smart monkey could learn to program.

Re:American universities (3, Insightful)

stevarooski (121971) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880671)

That would depend on the type of the problem given by the aforementioned American universities. If it was something that could be cracked by solid quantitative reasoning alone, I would very much agree--especially if this is an intro course you're talking about. Make sure that you're testing ability and potential, not knowledge at this point!

Not every kid who wants to try CS needs to be a math whiz. I was a Music major when I took my first CS class on a whim, and now I'm getting my Comp E degree. When I started, I didn't know anything about algorithm formation or discrete math.

Re:American universities (1)

scubacuda (411898) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880718)

Good point.

And those who come here from other countries will most likely be the ones who would really kick ass. How could we *not* recruit them?

Neat idea (1)

Spaceman Spiff II (552149) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880559)

That's a pretty cool idea by that Canadian University. This practice should happen more often. That way, the students with the talent and more importantly the desire can go into the field and will have a better chance to get in than, as is quite often the case, the better test taker or person with more money.

the details (5, Informative)

Syre (234917) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880560)

The cryotography turns out to have been very trivial. Here [uleth.ca] are the details.

..Minus the slashdotisms (5, Insightful)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880564)

From slashdot:

"New Scientist is running a story about a Canadian university who had students break an encrypted message in order to get into college."

But from the article:

"A Canadian university has awarded a scholarship to the first prospective student who successfully cracked an encoded mathematics problem"

And from slashdot:

"...here in 'Free' America these kids would have been thrown in jail for violating the DMCA ..."

Uh, yeah. Whatever.

Re:..Minus the slashdotisms (5, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880614)

He was a little closer than that, if you read the next paragraph:

One hundred other students who also managed to decode and figure out the problem were offered a place on the computer science course at the university. While it may not have been required for admission, and I don't know the size of their program, 100 sounds pretty high, so that may well encompass all incoming freshmen, or not.

Re:..Minus the slashdotisms (1)

irecleas (316241) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880668)

U of Lethbridge is a very small university. (2 hours from my house) 100 seems like a huge number and is most likely every single first year CS position.

Link to puzzle (5, Informative)

mattvd (44096) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880566)

Here's a link to the puzzle from the college's website [uleth.ca] :

http://www.whatmagnet.com/gofigure/index.html [whatmagnet.com]

Re:Link to puzzle (3, Insightful)

embobo (1520) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880643)

Well, I can tell you I wouldn't win the scholorship. That website was so annoying that I couldn't get past the first couple pages (including a splash page, barf) which talked about Flash being 21st century technology and all the l33t speak.

Re:Link to puzzle (2)

dragons_flight (515217) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880686)

Geez that code is trivial. At least the puzzle requires a smidge of thought. Though with only going to a million, the math puzzle could just as easily be solved by brute force.

I'm not sure whether to be happy that they want to make kids think, or be upset that they think today's youth are capable of so little.

And what's with spraying the university's name all over the encrypted text? Do they really think people that can decrypt it need to be reminded several times about what university wrote the puzzle?

Good one Tim... (0, Redundant)

big_groo (237634) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880568)

Perhaps you should get some sleep Timothy? Or lay off the Bawlz. In the morning you can brush up on the DMCA at any of these [google.com] convenient sites. ;)

ummm (-1)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880570)

"Free America"?

I allways thought those Canucks were pretty free themselves. I musta been wrong.

Find my secret message (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880575)

Duh, if you can't figure it out
I must say you are silly
A stupid idiot
Please tell me you know what it is
Elite hax0rs here at slashdot
Roadkill, eww!

Shit, it's almost done
Enter Sandman - Metallica
Xeno is cool

Re:Find my secret message (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880624)

Your secret message is "IMS THE ISI"
Take the first letter from every 2nd word.
I'm so smart.

not really OT (2, Informative)

NightHwk1 (172799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880584)

This reminds me of the Try2Hack [try2hack.nl] website.. It consists of 10 or so challenges, each one harder than the previous, involving html/javascript, java, vb, packet sniffing, etc.

It would be great to see something like this as a final exam for anyone studying networks or security.

Article was short on details (3, Informative)

dytin (517293) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880592)

The New Scientist article was really short on details. Anyway though, I found the university's press release, which has much more details. It can be found here. [uleth.ca] This link also contains the actual puzzle in case anyone is so inclined to try to break it...

the code (1)

DanThe1Man (46872) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880600)

I got off the school's website [whatmagnet.com] the code that is to be broken [whatmagnet.com] . Can someone from Slashdot solve it?

Re:the code (3, Informative)

mliu (85608) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880623)

SPOILER ALERT

Heh, they can call it encryption if they want, but this is encryption on the same scale as ROT-13. The message is encoded in the Base-4 number system with each number being the alphabet's letter's numerical position. so a = 1, z = 26. Or encoded, a = 001, z = 122.

And like numerous people have pointed out, while this contest in itself can't lead to a DMCA violation, the sad thing is, a piece of software "encrypted" with this algorithm could.

Re:the code (1)

DanThe1Man (46872) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880644)

Here is a JPEG vesion [uleth.ca] of the code for thouse that don't like PDF.

hazards of research (-1)

peepoh (537606) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880605)

I work as a research assisstant for a Psychology lab at a major university. Part of my duties includes running experiments on undergrads. I had just finished running this one experiment on a very attractive young lady. Just when I was moving to thank her for her participation and show her to the door, she interrupts.

"Look, I hate to beg, but I really need some extra credit for psyc 101. If my final grade stinks as much as my current grade, my parents will cut off my allowance. Could you spot me a few extra participation points?"

"I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to do that." What a pathetic grade-grubber.

That's when the brat began sobbing and blubbering. "But I can't fail this class! I got straight A's in highschool! I'll be a disgrace! I -"

"Well, I'm sorry but I can only award credit commensurate with the amount of time you give us. I -"

"What if I give you a blow job?"

Did she just say that? I'd better come up with a generic response if I didn't want to come off soundling like a big pervert in case she hadn't just tried to bribe me with oral pleasure.

"Sure, okay."

"Ten credits, I'll even swallow."

"Deal."

My remaining disbelief disappeared the minute she unzipped my trousers and opened wide. My Jimmy was having a thoroughly good time, at first. But then I got a little nibble, and then another.

"Um, could you please stop biting me?"

" I can't help it, my braces only allow me to open my mouth so far."

Braces!?! This chick had braces? I guess The Castle Dental Center's advertised "invisible braces" really held true to their claim. Normally I would have avoided a metal-mouth right off the bat, but I'd been duped by The Castle. Common sense told me, begged me to abort immediately, but I've never been one to pull the pancakes off the griddle before they were done just because a cockroach had fallen into the batter. I was going to complete this transaction.

"ooh! ow! ooooh! ow-OW! oooh! ow!"

Five minutes later, the pancakes were done. My participant attempted to dismount, but something was wrong. My flesh was caught in her braces! I tried to work my pee-pee's way carefully and slowly out of her mouth, but she wouldn't hold still! Suddenly she jerked her head back and a flap of skin tore off. I screamed. She picked her teeth with her pinky nail, said, "Thanks for the credits!" cheerily and walked out.

I lay on the floor in a fetal position, my member bleeding, for an hour or so until a scab had formed. I get my dick cut up on Miss Piranha's maw of death and she gets ten credits?!? But she didn't have the credits yet - I had to award them! I still had control of the situation! Oh sweet revenge! Negative one-hundred for you, bitch!

Encryption easy to break (1)

kenneth_martens (320269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880612)

According to the article, this sort of thing is not entirely new: "The UK government's intelligence headquarters, GCHQ, issued ac hallenge to job hunters in January 2000."

However, this was the first time that a university staged such a contest with scholarship money as a prize. And the University of Lethbridge's puzzle was a bit easier than GHCQ's puzzle, apparently.

I wish my university would give away scholarship money like this--I could sure use the money, and I'd like the challenge.

Here we go! (1)

skinney (395862) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880617)

Aight kiddiez. Stop! Don't do anything in high-school!
Just drop-out and learn how to crack. Then you can
get in to school for free! Just beware of the Fed
in the white van across the street from your house.
:)

Canada is good :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880619)

Well, canada regulations are a bit more permissive.

If you want to hack into a systems...destroy all machine running windows with a morphing-self-replicating virus....you better move to Canada.

Mafia boy got eight months in a youth detention centre for causing $1.7 billion in damages

If he was from US....few years? 10 years + 1,000,000$ ++?
Recent stories that people got cought growing marijuana in their house near montreal got less then a year in jail (7 to 11 months). 8 people in total I think.

American* justice is a bit too much 'american'.

*I hate to use the word american to designate US citizens. Candians are American too....since in America. ....but again....'american' like to be kings. :)

And not to mention .. (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880662)

A few years back, the Canadian snowboarding team a the winter olympics.

But then again, that would involve thinking about sport, which might be too much for the average /. reader.

That was simple (3, Informative)

ipfwadm (12995) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880621)

All the code is is the index of the letters of the alphabet in base 4. There's a URL underlined in there that makes it really obvious what the "encryption" technique being used is.

You guessed what I was gonna say: "OH WELL" (2)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880637)

This is a marvelous idea! Now that I've thought of it, I believe that every college should do something unique each year as part of its acceptance process. In other words, technical colleges might have you break an encryption, or fix some obscure bug nobody can find in a huge piece of software, or something difficult and obscure that most people wouldn't be able to accomplish. If you can do that, it adds major points to your acceptance process and gives you a huge advantage. Of course, other important stuff (like what grade you got in kindergarden) would still apply.

-_-_-O-_-_-H-_-_- -_-_-W-_-_-E-_-_-L-_-_-L-_-_- !

Re:You guessed what I was gonna say: "OH WELL" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880690)

This is a marvelous idea! Now that I've thought of it, I believe that every college should do something unique each year as part of its acceptance process.

I don't understand why there needs to be an acceptance process for colleges in the first place. If you get more students, hire more professors.

Of course, other important stuff (like what grade you got in kindergarden) would still apply.

Interesting. Maybe you're actually arguing the same point?

I Agree With This - To A Certain Extent (3, Interesting)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880639)

You know, this makes sense, up to a point. Most Liberal Arts kids have to write Essays to get into college, why not have Computer Science Geeky Kids Crack Codes?

Well, I think the major problem is the *lack* of creativity. This doesn't quite show that you have creative thought, only that you can deduce something logically. Now, as I understand it, that applies to programming, but really, if you're going to be a college student, life is more about creative problem solving than it is about logical.

Although, it is a neat idea. Will physics students be allowed to design experiments, or will others get similar "bonuses" to their college application process? I'd like to hope so.

Down with Standardized Tests, In With Creative Applications.

Man, this is easy (2, Funny)

VVrath (542962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880660)

I'm about middle of my course of 400 CompScis, and it took me all of five minutes to 'crack' the code, and solve the puzzle. Any kid who's done GCSE Computation (aged 14-16) should be able to work it out in less than half an hour.

Are degree courses that easy to get on to in Canada? I had to get three A levels at grade C or above (and my Uni's not particularly prestigous)!

Re:Man, this is easy (2, Insightful)

feelafel (228034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880694)

I'm about middle of my course of 400 CompScis, and it took me all of five minutes to 'crack' the code, and solve the puzzle. Any kid who's done GCSE Computation (aged 14-16) should be able to work it out in less than half an hour.

Well of course it's easy for a university student, and of course it's totally possible to complete for a high school student. Doesn't make much sense to post a puzzle for admission to a CS program that nobody can solve, does it?

At the end of the day, Lethbridge was trying to attract self-motivated students. The students who actually take the time to decode the message (very easy) and then solve the problem (a little more difficult, especially if you try to come up with a formula instead of just brute-forcing it) are the ones that they want. Not neccessarily because they have the capability to come up with the correct solution, but because they've got the moxy and the motivation to actually give it a "college try", as it were.

Your flamebait comment about the implications of Canadian University degrees will go ignored, but noted.

Re:Man, this is easy (1)

VVrath (542962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880721)

I had no intention of implying Canadian University degrees are of low worth, and I apologize to anyone who got that impression (it's late here, and my misguided sense of humour normally activates past 4am :)

I take your point that the problem itself is difficult if you don't brute-force it, or if you haven't done much pure maths. However, I still believe they should have made cracking the code at least a little more challenging. I would imagine that easily 95% of those who attempted it managed to crack the code and read the puzzle.

Saying all that, though, as a method of filtering out those who can't really be bothered, it was a fantastic idea.

Look at me I'm a journalist (0, Troll)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880673)

Timothy writes writes "Kallahar writes 'New Scientist is running a story about a Canadian university who had students break an encrypted message in order to get into college. A good idea to grab a good student, but here in 'Free' America these kids would have been thrown in jail for violating the DMCA ...'

The REAL Story ... (the code isn't the challenge) (5, Insightful)

feelafel (228034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880675)

If anyone's interested in the real story, they should go to this story [nationalpost.com] in the National Post.

Amongst other things, it talks about how the code is the first part of the challenge. The coded message leads to a math problem (which is actually kind of fun and has a rather elegant solution). Solve the math problem, and you get into school with the chance to win a scholarship.

Having gone to the site and gone through the decode and solve phases, I can happily report that the "code" isn't really a code at all. As the site hints, it's basically "coded" by being written in base-4. The challenge is really in the math problem, which requires applicants to find the summation of all decimal digits in the sequence of natural numbers from one to one million. While this isn't impossible, it does require some thought and intelligence. I thought it was a great idea for students who liked math and computer science (the problem can also be solved with a simple brute force algorithm) but weren't neccessarily that stellar students nor interested in lengthy University applications.

Heck - I spent an hour coming up with a solution and then verifying it with a quick little Java program. It was fun! Give it a shot!

(As a Troll-y sidenote, I'd like to mention with some degree of bitterness that I submitted this story, except when I did it, I got the facts right. Apparently this warrants a rejection, and irrelevant whining about the DMCA warrants approval. Do you ever wonder why /. gets a bad reputation from time to time?)

=) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880683)

to win a scholarship
from the university
of lethbridge

do the math.

formula:

find the sum of all decimal
digits appearing in the natural
numbers from one to one million
inclusive.

contest entries must be
received by december 12/31/01

to enter online: visit
www.uleth.ca
and submit your
answer.

mail: send your answer, along
with your name, full address and
phone number to go figure what
magazine, 108,93 lombard avenue,
winnipeg, mb, r3b3b1.

Re:=) (3, Insightful)

justin.warren (14556) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880716)

Heh. Just beat me to it. Simple substitution cipher with all letters substituted for their position in the alphabet in base 4:

A = /001
B = /002
etc. Numbers, dates and punctuation not included.

Answer's 27,000,001 in case you were wondering.

I can't believe no one has posted this... (2, Funny)

macsuibhne (307779) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880697)

Was it "f u cn rd ths, u cn gt a gd jb n cmptr prgrmmng."?

Enquiring minds &c.
Tony.

Coming soon... (2)

Nugget (7382) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880698)

... the distributed.net [distributed.net] online scholarship program!

]:8)

Crack the code of goatse.cx! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880699)

There is a secret message in his anus: www.goatse.cx/hello.jpg [goatse.cx]

- The BOFH Troll

Canandian Universities.. (1)

Silver222 (452093) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880705)

At least in Alberta, are a bit different than they are in the States. No entrance essays about how you bleed the color of the school, no parents lobbying to get you in even if you are a complete dumbass *cough*Bush...Yale*cough*. (Although I'm sure strings have been pulled in some instances. Hell, they even gave Ralph Klein an honorary degree, right?)


All I had to do was submit my high school transcript with the application halfway through Grade 12. If you have good marks, it's harder to get a driver's license than it is to get into the University of Alberta. (Not to imply that it's an inferior University either.)

Wow.. I actually graduated from that University... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880709)

Who would have thought the little University I went too would turn out a totally unique and creative idea such as this... :)

Speaking from experience, the CS courses there rival many of the larger Canadian Universities, and actually exceed them. If that's one thing the UofL teaches you, it's how to critically think, and code.

Sweet!

makes you wonder (4, Funny)

joenobody (72202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880712)

Does this strike anyone else as a great way to get someone else to finish up the work on your thesis for you?

Silly Question (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 12 years ago | (#2880717)

If you have to know crypto-analysis in order to get into college, where are you supposed to learn crypto-analysis? Or is Canada yet another of those countries where university != college?

The Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2880725)

to win a scholarship from the university of lethbridge

do the math.

formula:
find the sum of all decimal digits appearing in the natural numbers from one to one million inclusive.

contest entries must be received by december 12/31/01

to enter online: visit www.uleth.ca and submit your answer.
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