Logic, Codes, Puzzles

Written by Robert Smith Thursday, 29 November 2018

'Logic, Codes, Puzzles' is a workshop being run by Robert J Smith at the Mathematics Teacher Network in Southampton (04/12), Northampton (05/12) and Leeds (06/12). This is a FREE event, some tickets still remaining.


Look at this paragraph. What is vitally wrong with it? Actually, nothing in it is wrong. But you must admit it is a most unusual paragraph. Don’t just zip through too quickly. Look again - with caution! With luck you will spot what is particular about this paragraph and all words in it. Apart from it’s poor grammar. Can you say what it is? Tax your brains and try again. Don’t miss a word or symbol. It isn’t all that difficult.

Having looked at the above paragraph above, can you see what is wrong? Let me know what you think it might be by sending a tweet to @LaSalleEd and use the hashtag #MTN_Codes.

Next week, La Salle Education are running a series of Maths Teacher Network sessions across the country. This series of Network meetings include workshops from AQA in the guise of Roger Ray (@AQAMaths), Sian Thomas (Leeds) and Bernie Westacott (@berniewestacott) (Northampton and Southampton) from Oxford University Press. They will all no doubt put on fabulous sessions that you should definitely attend, but I wanted to tell you about my session as I will be looking at Logic, Codes and Puzzles. The Maths Teacher Network meetings are an opportunity to get together and talk and discuss Maths. Something that we don’t always get time to do.

Having looked at the above paragraph above, can you see what is wrong? Let me know what you think it might be by sending a tweet to @LaSalleEd and use the hashtag #MTN_Codes

I really don’t want to give too much away about the session as I want you to attend. So instead, I thought I would let you think about this (fairly simple) Atbash cipher.

By the way, for those that haven’t seen an Atbash cipher before, it is a particular type of monoalphabetic cipher formed by taking the alphabet (or abjad, syllabary, etc.) and mapping it to its reverse, so that the first letter becomes the last letter, the second letter becomes the second to last letter, and so on. For example, the Latin alphabet would work like this:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓
Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A

Due to the fact that there is only one way to perform this, the Atbash cipher provides no communications security. So the following should be easy to decode:

ZGGVMW GSV NZGSH GVZXSVI MVGDLIP

The following is the description for my session:

Logic, Codes, Puzzles
This session involves using maths to solve codes and puzzles. From simple addition and subtraction, to data handling and logical thinking, the session will show how we can use mathematical concepts and understanding to explore topics in greater depth. An opportunity to look at how all students might access a problem. What strategies can be used? Which are the most effective? And Why?

It will be my first opportunity to attend a Maths Teacher Network meeting but I am hoping that I will be able to organise and attend many more. (If your school can host such an event then please get in touch!!)

About the Author

Robert Smith

Robert J Smith has been teaching maths for nearly 10 years and is currently the Maths Community Lead for La Salle Education. Robert has been involved with the East Midlands Mathematics community since his Teacher Training days and has helped to lead and organise several CPD, Masterclass and engaging mathematics opportunities. These sessions have been for Teachers, Lecturers, Students (and their parents) and also those generally interested in Mathematics. Robert is involved with the East Midlands MA/ATM Branch and is currently based in Leicestershire, in the UK.

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