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University of Southampton Cipher Challenge prizes awarded at Bletchley Park

Published: 
6 May 2004

The young code breakers who successfully completed the University of Southampton National Cipher Challenge 2004 receive their prizes on Friday 7 May at historic Bletchley Park, the National Codes Centre.

For the second year running, the top prize goes to David Simner, a pupil at Nottingham High School who cracked the final and most difficult code in just a few minutes - thanks to a computer programme he had written to recognize Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The Challenge, which has been run for the last two years by experts at the University of Southampton's Mathematics Department, aims to challenge, inspire and entertain school students of all ages and at the same time involve more young people in mathematics and increase its national appeal. The competition was designed so that participants will learn not only about ciphers but also some mathematics, science and engineering, and the social and cultural context of the time.

This year more than 2800 pupils from 500 schools were able to develop mathematical and problem-solving skills while racing to unscramble a series of eight increasingly difficult coded entries from the journal of fictional heroine Agatha Highfield, detailing her quest for the Babylon Stone in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.

Adam Wheeler, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, will host the prize giving where he will announce the date for the start of next year's keenly-awaited challenge. Clifford Cocks from GCHQ, the modern home of Government code breaking, will be awarding the main prizes, which is sponsored by IBM.

Bletchley Park, also known as Station X, acted as the centre for Allied code breaking during World War II and is one of this year's sponsors of the Cipher Challenge, together with IBM, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, EducationGuardian.co.uk and the London Mathematical Society.

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 19,200 students and 4800 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £250 million.

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