For The Mathematically Curious About:
Art & Architecture
Astronomy & the Cosmos
Education Gr. K-6
Education Gr. 7+
History: Math & Science
Mathematical Hands On Projects
Mathematical Posters
Mathematical Principles
Mathematical Thinking
Mathematical Toys
Practical Applications
Puzzles and Games
Science (Math) Fiction
Time & Time Travel
Customer Service
About Us



Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II
by Stephen Budiansky
The author, who knows both math and military history, has provided us with a well written telling of the story of how the USA and UK cracked German and Japanese codes, and used this knowledge to win World War II. It even-handedly deals with the contributions of both Brits and Yanks (all too few books on this topic do so). "This is the best treatment for a wide audience since David Kahn's The Codebreakers, and contains much new material from documents declassified in the last decade." He explains how the data-processing machines of the early 1940's were used at the dawn of the computer era. It is very well done and hightly recommended to both those who have never read a book on this subject and those who have read several.


Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemakers War, 1941-1945
by Leo Marks Codes.
For code enthusiasts. At the age of 8, Leo Marks discovered the great game of code-making and -breaking in his father's London bookshop, thanks to a first edition of Poe's The Gold-Bug. During WWII, Marks was sent to the Special Operations Executive Department. Their mandate was, in Churchill's stirring phrase, to "Set Europe Ablaze," and Marks's was to monitor code security so that agents could report back as safely as possible. His solution? WOKs (worked-out keys) printed on silk. An operative would use one key, send the message, and immediately tear off the strip. Marks had a hard time proving that swaths of silk would save his people from swallowing their "optional extra," a cyanide pill. His efforts were dead serious, but often landed him in comic terrain when dealing with his superiors. The author never lost sight of the importance of his vocation. Marks knew when to cut the laugh track, particularly as his book becomes a despairing record of agents blown--lost to torture, prison, the camps, and execution. Readers will never forget the valor of Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Kahn, and the White Rabbit himself, Flight Lieutenant Yeo-Thomas. Also interesting is the insider's account of the in-fighting between the various factions - SOE vs. C (intelligence), de Gaulle's Free French vs. the other French groups, friction between the country sections within SOE, etc. Marks was a natural storyteller who brilliantly linked the highly technical issue of codes and ciphers to the fates of individual agents.. A great read! (Sorry to report, Mr. Marks passed away in 2001).


Breaking the Maya Code
by Michael D. Coe
A fluent, engaging and informative account of the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphics. What is established, Coe writes, is that the Maya writing system is a mix of logograms and syllabic signs, with the latter, they could and often did write words purely phonetically.


Challenging Cryptograms
by Helen Nash
400 simple substitution ciphers reveal clever or humorous quotations from 250 famous personalities past and present, real and fictional. All solutions in the back.


Clever Cryptograms
by Louise Moll
For code enthusiasts. An imaginative collection of 300 simple substitution ciphers with word divisions based on the sayings of 30 of the world's greatest thinkers, writers, and philosophers. Illustrated.


Cracking Codes
by Richard Parkinson
For code enthusiasts. Mr. Parkinson is the Assistant Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum. This book is the latest word on hieroglyphics. It deals with the Rosetta Stone and its decipherment. It is a catalog full of informative essays on all facets of the subject.


The Code Book : How to Make It, Break It, Hack It, or Crack It
by Simon Singh


Code Book:The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
by Simon Singh
How codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The major theme of The Code Book is what Singh calls "the ongoing evolutionary battle between codemakers and codebreakers," never more clear than in the chapters devoted to World War II. Cryptography came of age during that conflict, as secret communications became critical to both sides' success.

Adversity is one of the foundations of successful codebreaking. In wartime, confronted with the prospect of defeat, the Allied cryptanalysts had worked night and day to penetrate German ciphers. It would appear that fear is the main driving force. In the information age, the fear that drives cryptographic improvements is both capitalistic and libertarian. Corporations need encryption to ensure that their secrets don't fall into the hands of competitors and regulators Ordinary people need encryption to keep their everyday communications private in a free society. Similarly, the battles for greater decryption power come from said competitors and governments wary of insurrection. The Code Book is an excellent primer for those wishing to understand how the human need for privacy has manifested itself through cryptography. Singh's accessible style and clear explanations of complex algorithms cut through the arcane mathematical details without oversimplifying.


The Code Breakers; The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet
by David Kahn
This book is a must-read for the serious code enthusiast. Any aspiring tech guru, hacker, cryptologist, security agent (FBI, NSA, etc.), and the list goes on, will love this book. It is not intended to teach the reader how to design or crypto-analyze codes and ciphers; it is a history book, and a really great one. Buy it, read it, enjoy it, re-read it again because it is so interesting you will rush through it to see what's next and not pick up on many of the details the first time through. However, the reader should be aware of a couple of things that may not be apparent.

First, the 1996 "revised edition" differs from the 1967 first edition only in the addition of a final chapter to cover what Kahn didn't know (or didn't choose to include) in the 1967 edition. The first 26 of 27 chapters, and the references and bibliography associated with them, are essentially identical to those of the 1967 edition. This means that a number of statements and passages in the first 26 chapters, although correct in 1967, may be misleading if one assumes they were written in 1996. I recommend that the reader skim Chapter 27 quickly before reading the rest of the book, so as not to misunderstand any of what's in earlier chapters.

Second, keep in mind that in 1967 Kahn was essentially an outsider so far as the intelligence community was concerned, but by 1996 he was definitely regarded as an insider. Hence, the new final chapter is written with complete respect for the sensitivities of the intelligence community, which the original book was not. I was surprised to see one particular statement in the last chapter until I realized that NSA wants to correct a misapprehension widely held outside the community. Much more important, Kahn now knows a great deal that he has chosen to omit from the last chapter, including much that's unclassified but still regarded by somebody as sensitive for one reason or another. He even omits certain material that he made publicly available some years ago in his written testimony to a Congressional subcommittee. So the reader should understand that this book says less than it might about various aspects of the recent history of cryptology and its impact dating back to World War II. Whether this is good or bad depends on where one sits; if one is concerned about the sensitivities of various governments, it's good; if one wants to know as much as one can about the history of cryptology since 1940 that's not still classified, it's bad.

However, there is new information on techniques used to break machine and computer ciphers, as well as the speculation of scientists on how messages from outer space might be solved and a study of the use of codes during the Vietnam War. If you do want more on ULTRA and the others, there are a number of excellent books on both cryptography and SIGINT operations published since. And after all crytography is just a game unless the results can be applied in real time to affect events.


Codes and Ciphers: Julius Caesar, the ENIGMA, and the Internet
by Robert Churchhouse
The first documented case of encryption being used in war is when Julius Caesar used a simple substitution cipher to send orders to his troops. That and all similar codes is where the book begins. After that, there is a very detailed examination of the Enigma and Hagelin machines, right down to how the wheels interact. This part of the book was by far the most interesting, as well as the descriptions of how it was possible for the allied cryptographers to break the Enigma code. It turns out that the breaking of the codes was not due to a flaw in the machine, but in the way it was used. The remaining part of the book is filled with a description of public key cryptography and the applications for the Internet. What makes this book unique is the mechanical descriptions of the Enigma and Hagelin cipher machines.


Codes, Cyphers & Secret Writing
by Martin Gardner
For code enthusiasts. A fascinating introductory book about codes and ciphers. Readable and understandable for age 11 and up.


Codes, Puzzles And Conspiracy
by Dennis Shasha
For code enthusiasts. A new mathematical thriller from Dr. Eco... A fictional mathematical detective story. Dr. Eco is an omniheurist, a universal problem-solver. This book asks the reader to help Dr. Eco escape from the misguided Baskerhound and thwart a nasty coup. The puzzles draw their inspiration from zero-knowledge proofs, parallel computation, geometrical design, and plain old logic. If you like puzzles, this book will drive you crazy.


by Steven Levy
For code enthusiasts. How the code-rebels beat the government by saving privacy in the digital age. An interesting read in light of post 9/11 conditions. Many pros and cons. Lots of food for thought. Crypto dishes the dirt on the folks who know how to keep a secret.


by Neal Stevenson
Vintage Stevenson from start to finish: short on plot but long on detail so precise that it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea, or a bit of sharp prose. The book is packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto plus all the computer jargon of the moment. Over 900 pages of science fiction.


by Clifford Pickover
For code enthusiasts. A gem for teachers across the curriculum. The book explores the structure of the English language in a way that both math and English teachers can appreciate and use in their classrooms. Code breaking is an adventurous way to teach symbolic problem solving. The core of the book is a series of 100 quotations or expressions encoded via a substitution cipher. While some are challenging, after you do a few, many become rather easy. An unencrypted, explanatory message appears with most of them, and in the case of quotations, the message reveals who the author is. Since that person's name is coded at the bottom, once you know the name and how the attribution appears, the problem is half solved. Converting the given characters into the English alphabet before attempting to solve the problem helps. There is also a chapter containing seventeen puzzles that together can be used to make up a contest.


Discoveries: Signs,Symbols & Cyphers
by Claude Moatti
To communicate, people have always used signs and symbols: marks, gestures, and words that represent abstract ideas and concrete objects. Over time, these have multiplied into an immense and complex network of images, figures, emblems. We use signs to measure such difficult concepts as number, danger, value, distances in time and space, and even love. How does a sign represent the thing for which it substitutes? How do we come to understand the meaning of a written symbol? What happens when a sign crosses international borders of language and culture? Chapter by chapter, Georges Jean conducts us through the fascinating realm of maps, pictograms, logographs, letterforms, patterns, signals, codes, and facial expressions. An excellent member of the Abrams Discovery series for those interested in the subject. Full color illustrations throughout.


In Code: A Mathematical Journey
by Sarah Flannery, David Flannery
Sarah Flannery, age 16, developed her project about public key cryptography, the method used to transmit secure data over the Internet, and created a media sensation. Until a security hole was discovered, some believed that Sarah's encryption algorithm could be worth millions, and she became an instant celebrity. Her research and discoveries in Internet cryptography won her both Ireland's Young Scientist of the Year and European Young Scientist of the Year awards. Despite the advanced math discussed, this will appeal to high school and college students because the author is a very young mathematician and does a commendable job of explaining how she got interested in such an intense science project. All this is illustrated by Flannery's own story of her rapidly developing interest and proficiency in cryptography with brief descriptions of her grandparents to her father's teaching methods and her relationship to family in the face of a media frenzy, gives her story added depth, warmth and humor. SARAH FLANNERY is now a student at Cambridge University. DAVID FLANNERY, Sarah's father, lectures on mathematics at Ireland's Cork Institute of Technology.


The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes
by Mark Urban
Alan Turing wasn't the only Brit with a genius for code cracking. Meet George Scovell, an engraver's apprentice who stumbled into the job as the Duke of Wellington's decoder and managed to unravel Bonaparte's legendary Great Paris Cipher, which contained 1,400 coded elements. Scovell would in time become his era's most brilliant code-breaker and an officer in Wellesley's army. After the war, Wellington dismissed Scovell's contributions and took credit for himself and his staff officers, reflecting the severe social strictures of eighteenth-century England for the life of a tradesman. His contributions have been largely overlooked or ignored. This book tells the fascinating story of the early days of cryptology, re-creates the high drama of some of Europe's most remarkable military campaigns, and restores the mantle of hero to a man heretofore forgotten by history.

$13.95 (available March, 2003)

Navaho Code Talkers
by Nathan Aaseng
The courageous story of the Navaho soldiers of World War II who served their country by speaking their own language which has roots in no other.