Talk:Books on cryptography

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About this list[edit]

This list is intended to be an introduction to the cryptographic literature. It has been categorized to help readers distinguish amongst the books on offer along several dimensions. Note carefully that the placement of the entries and the annotations for each are intended to winnow the cryptographic wheat from the unreliable chaff. See Talk:Books on cryptography for discussion on this. Contributers are asked to take that intent into account when editing or adding entries.

rationale for structure/content of this page[edit]

Now that there is a separate page for crypto books, I suggest the following groupings, or something similar. The reasons are given below. In no particular order, then:

heavily techical material -- eg, Handbook of Applied Cryptography, Stinson's Crypto Theory and Practice, etc

meta crytography (about the uses and context of crypto security) -- Schneier's Secrets and Lies, Anderson's Security Engineering,

technical material accessible to a non-specialist audience -- Schneier's, Applied Cryptography, Practical Cryptography, Simpson's O'Reilly book on PGP,

intro material (non historical) -- eg, Gaines Cryptanalysis, Ley's Crypto book, Gardiner's crypto book

intro material (historical) -- Kahn's The Codebreakers, Budianski's Battle of Wits, Sebag-Montefiore's Enigma, ...

legendary or mythical (ie, not to be relied upon)

historical with a strong admixture of crypto info -- eg,

I also strongly suggest that each entry include evaluatory notes. I suggest that all such notes include an evaluation of technical accuracy, historical accuracy, errors found (at least qualitatively, eg. "sloppily edited lots of minor errors in examples", or "very well no significant errors found"), and currency at the time of the review. As preliminary and raw examples, the following

--Budianski's Battle of Wits is historically accurate (extensive research in recent material some of it newly available), technically accurate, and has little to do with current cryptographic practice. I, at least, found very little in the way of errors.

--Stinnet's Day of Deceit, is historically accurate as to the raw facts (the bibliography/notes is extensive), technically incompetent cryptographically, and not current at all except in a political polemic sense. Stinnet does not understand the crypto he is writing about, gets it wrong often, does not understand the tentative contingent quality of intelligence evaluation, has a political agenda (frankly avowed in the book itself) which leads him regularly astray, and his conclusions are thus unreliable.

--As well, I would include Farago's stuff in the historical with a strong admixture category, but would note that there is much legend/myth/disinformation included and that any specific claim must be evaluated with care. And so also with Toland's Day of Infamy, noting some of his informants have publicly identified themselves and disclaimed his account of their experience.

The reason for all this is, of course, that much of the material on cryptography and cryptographic history is of dubious quality. WP readers deserve a guide into the quicksand, lest they be dragged under into the mire. This is, even when responsibly covered, not stuff that is easily vetted for plausibility by the little informed, and even the well informed can be easily led down the garden path as to historical issues.



Go ahead and make the changes, the current formatting is solely based upon the format it was in in the cryptography article. --Imran 15:57, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Imran, I'd like to hear your reaction to my reaction posted on Talk:Cryptography. Thanks.

edit conflict problem[edit]


We just collided in a big way. I'm not sure how much of the work I had in progress was lost and how much got in. I'm gearing up, after much reluctance to DO this article, having procrastinated for some time, and it will be in a state of flux until I run out of steam.

ww 19:01, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Matt, I think I've got the majority of the debris cleaned up now. I like most of your edits -- I would/should/might have seen them (or most of them, anyway) eventually. As for the purpose of the sentence about mechanization etc you deleted, they were there for 1) narrative flow and 2) to explain why there was a long blackout on public crypto literature. During that period I'm aware of no intellectually serious books on crypto in English; it was all kiddie stuff. Now this may betray more the lacunae in my coverage of the published field for 50 years, but ... Anyway, our reader deserves to have this said, for it's a sort of ground thing which is easy to miss.


ww 19:54, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Matt, I'm lost. A 'long term meta note is better'? Not sure where you're headed with that. ww 17:18, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps the edit summary wasn't particularly helpful...what I meant was, while, say, {{msg:inuse}} is useful for preemptively avoiding edit conflicts for a short period of time, longer term messages about instability of a page should probably not be displayed on the page itself, but on the talk page, or as a comment in the wikitext. — Matt
It's clear to me that our approaches to WP have been quite different. I've been here since at least 04.03 (earliest anonymous edit I can find) and have been busily editing away ever since. You've been here since 02.04 or 03.04 and already seem to have mastered stuff I've never heard of. Sheesh! Maybe I should look up sometimes?
What's a wikitext? Is there a convention / obligation to use it whatever it is, or to avoid a textual note noting instability? ww 17:40, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC)
wikitext's just the same thing as wikimarkup, namely all the ''formatting'' [[things]] that <!-- articles are written in --> '''and get''' rendered into HTML later — Matt 18:04, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Oh. ww 15:38, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I added a "Fiction" section (hope you don't mind), and started it off with Cryptonomicon. I realize the rest of the books listed here are technical non-fiction books regarding the subject, but since this is the list of books on cryptography, it seemed the place to list works of fiction that focus on the subject. Thoughts? - Eisnel 17:13, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Sounds a good idea to me; I've added Harris' Enigma. — Matt 07:25, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Sweet, I'll look around for even more... mainly because after Cryptonomicon I want to read more. I'll have to look at that Enigma book. - Eisnel 00:09, 12 Jun 2004 (UTC)

some notes on more entries[edit]

Just some notes on historic works.

  • A. De Grandpre, La Cryptographic Pratique (1905)
  • M. Givierge, Cours de Cryptographie (1932)
  • P. Hitt, Manual for the Solution of Military Ciphers (1918)
  • P. Hitt, The A, B, C of Secret Writing (1935)
  • H. Jose, La Cryptographie et ses Applications a l'art Militaire (1885)
  • F. W. Kasiski, Die Geheimschriften und die Dechiffrir-Kunst (1863)
  • A. Kerckhoffs, La Cryptographie Militaire ou des Chiffres Usites en Temp de Guerre (1883)
  • A Langie, Cryptography (1922)
  • A Langie and Soudart, Traite de Cryptographie (1935)
  • P. B. Thomas, Secret Messages (1929)
  • P. Valerio, Essai sur les Methodes de Dechiffrement (1893)
  • E. B. F. Von Wastrowitz, Handbuch der Kryptographie (1881)

--Imran 23:18, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Imran, Argggh. Looks almost like the list I've been keeping prior to the big addition to the article. Yuh beat me to it! Good work, you found several I hadn't come across yet. ww 15:54, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
They're are lots of early works on crypto which I've never even heard of (see the COPAC list, I'll be moving to London soon so hopefully I'll be able to get ahold of some of them and check them out. --Imran 21:59, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Wiki johng (talk) 18:12, 11 December 2007 (UTC) A note about the citation of Nigel Smart's "Cryptography, An Introduction". In this reference, there is also a link to a Wiki article, obviously meant to be the author, but the Nigel Smart in this link ( is an Australian athlete, not the Nigel Smart who wrote the book. That Nigel Smart would be better served by linking to or at least summarizing the information at "Nigel Smart's Home Page" ( I am new to the idea of making contributions to Wiki. I did look at the "source" for the page, and can see that Wiki links are indicated with doubled square brackets, but I can't quite figure out the best way to fix this. Just thought I would bring it to your attention. I'll continue to investigate the proper way to make the correction; for example, is it appropriate to link to the author's (that is, Prof. Smart's) home page? Does one ask for permission? Anyway, this is the nature of the problem. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards...

Sentence in opening statement baffling[edit]

This, despite the tempting, though superficial, paradox that secrecy is of the essence in sending confidential messages — see Kerckhoffs' law.

What does it mean? I have no idea :-) Doesn't seem to be a well formed sentence anyway. Can anyone clear this up? Ambush Commander 20:57, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)

I make it out to be something like this: If your goal is be secret about what you're doing, the first impulse is to not tell people how you're keeping whatever it is secret. After long and painful experience, the crypto community (a bit of reification there until perhaps the last 25 or 30 years, as there were only practicioners in small bunches here and there employed mostly by governments, plus a few amateurs (Poe perhaps most famous amongst them) and some very optimistic commercial equipment makers; starting with the Diffie-Hellman public discovery of asymmetric crytography ca '76 it all changed and something like a real community emerged ith journals and conferences and ...) came to the realization that the Enemy knowing how you did it wasn't the real issue as a practical matter. Kerckhoff in the 1870s and 75 years later, Shannon, both wrapped this realization into pithy epigrams.

Hope that helps... ww 21:54, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

removed "Enigma"[edit]

I removed Enigma from the fiction list since there was no description, and I sort of remember reading it but only vaguely, i.e. I now find it un-memorable. This is the one that was partly set at Bletchley Park, right? IIRC, it used the codebreaking operation as a backdrop but was otherwise just another random suspense/romance novel that didn't have any actual significant cryptographic content. Cryptonomicon at least had the Solitaire cipher figure into the plot. Feel free to put Enigma back, but a blurb would be appreciated. Phr (talk) 22:24, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

It is indeed rather free as to the facts, but then it's fiction. More fanciful than many... There was a movie mad from it, which was still more fanciful. For that reason alone it should probably be here. I'm just waiting for the Da Vinci code to be added and the discussion that will surely follow. ww 22:35, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand. Lots of books were made into movies that aren't "books on cryptography". Enigma had a character who was a cryptographer, which is maybe a little closer to being "on cryptography", but (as I remember it) had about as much actual cryptography in it as the movie Sneakers. The Key to Rebecca is fiction but the crypto in it is both quite realistic, and central to the plot. Phr (talk) 00:00, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps Rebecca should be added; I've never read it. Enigma was placed at BP IIRC and so is closer than you represent. It's a minor issue really. Not one to cause much effort on anyone's part. Labeled fiction after all. I'd think we ought to spend time reparing cryptography, and I'd do so save for my browser problems. No solution yet. ww 00:50, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, Enigma was set in BP but I don't remember it having any contents of cryptographic interest. With a few adjustments, it could have been set just about anywhere with the cryptographer in some other profession, and still been pretty much the same book. I'd also like to remove Digital Fortress -- any objections? I already removed it from Cryptography. See the Wikipedia article about it if you haven't yet. Phr (talk) 02:47, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

I've put Harris' Enigma on the list, not aware of the recent discussion in this place (didn't scroll down all the way, sorry). It was not my intention to create an edit war, so anyone should feel free to remove it again. Still I believe this book deserves a place somewhere in Wikipedia; a short motivation for this is on my talk page. Jaho 02:15, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

How about if we keep it in this article but omit it from Cryptography? That's the current situation; I hope it's ok. Phr (talk) 03:09, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
That's fine with me. Jaho 22:57, 26 July 2006 (UTC)


As I recall, the HoAC is on an undergraduate level. It certainly assumes some familiarity with mathematical symbols, although it has a refresher section.

Number Theory and Cryptography by Koblitz is pretty good. 3 of the chapters are elementary, but other parts appear to be grad level. And Algebraic Aspects of Cryptography by Koblitz, which I am not familiar with. 03:05, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Alert: lists of publications in Articles for deletion[edit]

Some lists of books have been added to Wikipedia:Articles for deletion. You can find the discussions here. RockMagnetist (talk) 22:23, 5 October 2011 (UTC)