This Research Experience for Undergraduates is a joint effort of Northern Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati. It will operate for three summers, and each summer six talented undergraduate students will be engaged in the study of mathematical cryptology. Participants will be mentored by one faculty member from Northern Kentucky University, one faculty member from the University of Cincinnati, and two graduate students from the University of Cincinnati. Participants will be involved in attacking unsolved problems in mathematical cryptology. The mentors will guide participants to develop independence as mathematical researchers, introduce participants to the mathematical community, encourage well qualified participants to consider graduate school in mathematics or consider a career in mathematics, help participants develop their skills in orally presenting mathematics, and help participants write a mathematical paper.

Participants will be housed at Northern Kentucky University, which is located in Greater Cincinnati, and will be provided with housing and meals. The program will also provide a stipend for each participant, travel support to and from the Northern Kentucky University campus, and travel support for each student to participate in one professional conference during the academic year that follows their participation in the program.

The site is supported by the Department of Defense in partnership with the NSF REU program.

Project Report

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematical Cryptology was held during summers 2008, 2009, and 2010 on the campus of Northern Kentucky University (NKU), which is located in Greater Cincinnati. For each year’s REU, six students were recruited from a nationwide search. Each participant received funds for travel to and from NKU, room and board on campus, and a stipend for their participation. Each REU ran for eight weeks – early June until early August. During the REUs, the participants were engaged in explorations in algebraic cryptography and algebraic cryptanalysis. They were mentored by the two principal investigators – one from NKU and one from the University of Cincinnati (UC) – and graduate students from UC. For each of the second and third summers, one participant returned from the previous summer and served as an undergraduate mentor. Each REU began with instruction in the foundations of algebraic cryptography and algebraic cryptanalysis and in programming using the computer algebra system Magma. Participants were also exposed to potential research problems. After the second week, participants chose a problem that they wanted to explore. For the last six weeks of the REU, participants worked in teams on their problems and presented their results during a seminar at the end of the REU. Fifteen of the eighteen participants have either enrolled in graduate school or have applied for graduate school for next year. One paper resulting from the 2008 REU was presented by the student participant at an international conference. Other student presentations were at local or regional conferences.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
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Bruce P. Palka
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Northern Kentucky University Research Foundation, Inc.
Highland Heights
United States
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