Cryptorally 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 9:30am


The 6th annual Cryptorally is a cipher-solving competition for those interested in cryptology. The Cryptorally competition is open to all students, but requires online registration.

Registration to run the rally is closed.

The featured lecture and poster session are free and open to everyone.

At 10:00a.m., each team of students will be given its first cipher to solve. The answer to that cipher will lead to a specific location on campus where the team will receive its next cipher. The competition is similar to a scavenger hunt. Clues will lead each team across campus to various secret locations, and ultimately to the final location. The first team to solve all the ciphers correctly and arrive at the final location will be the winner and receive a special prize. Prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third place teams in each of the two divisions.

Cryptorally competition

There are two divisions of competition:

College level and high school students

  • College level and high school students
  • Students will compete in teams of one or two
  • Students may choose their own partner, or have one assigned if needed
  • High school teams with students under the age of 18 must have an adult chaperone. The chaperone is not allowed to help the students with decoding
  • Sample ciphers provided for Cryptorally competiton preparation.
  • Read the Cryptorally rules of competition

Junior Cryptorally
Middle school or junior high school students

  • Middle school or junior high school students
  • Only students in grades 6, 7, and 8 are eligible to participate
  • Students will compete in teams of one, two, or three. Two is recommended.
  • Teams with one or two members will have a shorter route than teams with three members. The smaller teams will decode 7 ciphers, and teams with three members will decode 8 ciphers.
  • Each team must have at least one adult chaperone, but may have one chaperone for each child.
  • Chaperones, and any parents, are not allowed to help the students with decoding.
  • There is a lot of walking during the rally, appropriate shoes should be worn.
  • Reminder: Calculators not allowed in Junior Cryptorally.
  • Download Junior Cryptorally materials to use instead of calculator.
  • Sample ciphers provided for Junior Cryptorally competition preparation.
  • Read the rules of competition.
  • Download parental release form and bring completed form with you on Nov. 5

Featured Lecture
John Jones
Professor of Mathematics
Arizona State University

Cards and LFSRs
We will demonstrate a math-based card trick.  Explaining how it works will lead us to a type of cipher called a Linear Feedback Shift Register.


9:30 amCheck-in at Wexler Hall second floor breezeway
10:00 amCryptorally begins
12:30 pm

Poster session

Pizza lunch available in Wexler Hall for competitors

1:00 pmCryptorally ends
1:30 pmFeatured Lecture - WXLR 203
Professor John Jones - Cards and LFSRs
2:30 pmAwards presentation and desserts


Free and open to all eligible students who register in advance. The featured lecture is free and open to the public. 

Poster Session

Deadline for abstract submissions is October 7 at 5:00pm.
Poster Proposal submission form

About the Cryptorally

The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences has hosted the Cryptorally event for the past five years. The Cryptorally is designed by Nancy Childress, associate professor who teaches cryptography.

Cryptography, the science of making and breaking codes and ciphers, is an important field of study today. Cryptography helps to protect personal, financial, proprietary and defense-related information. Among many other things, it is used in internet commerce and in communication devices, such as mobile phones and cable boxes. Modern cryptology relies on ideas from number theory, abstract algebra and discrete mathematics. A good background in these subjects is essential for anyone who wants to understand how modern cryptosystems work.

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