Computers: Opening the Trapdoor Knapsack

An Israeli mathematician cracks a formidable code

Five years ago, computer scientists at Stanford and M.I.T. made a pair of chummy but keenly competitive $100 bets. A team at each university had devised a secret code to protect computers from electronic intruders by scrambling and unscrambling the data in a complex fashion. Each team offered cash to the first mathematician who could crack its code, figuring that the deciphering could not be done in much less than a million years. To the surprise of all concerned, however, the Stanford scheme sprang a leak this...

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