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Unravelling the mathematics of the internet

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The important role mathematics plays in safely and accurately transmitting information across the internet will be the focus of a public talk in Rotorua next week, being given by Dr Dillon Mayhew, a mathematician from Victoria University.

Dr Mayhew’s talk ‘Codes and ciphers - the mathematics of the internet’ will explore how the modern world has been transformed by the ability to send and receive information instantaneously across the globe.

He will be discussing, in a non-technical way, some of the mathematical principles involved in encrypting confidential information including the role of prime numbers, and the concept of public key cryptography.

"Our world has been completely changed by the ability to send and receive information immediately from almost anywhere on our planet," says Dr Mayhew.

"The use of codes and ciphers is an important way of making sure that confidential, or secret, information transferred across the internet stays that way.

"We use these in everyday online transactions, such as with banks and companies like Amazon, but they are also used by governments for transferring high-level secret information and, for these situations, more complex codes are required.

"For this to occur, however, a trade-off often has to be made and I’ll be speaking about this balance between efficiency and security in my talk," he says.

Dr Mayhew is a Lecturer in Victoria University’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research. He studied both mathematics and music at Victoria as an undergraduate, before receiving a prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship to complete his PhD in mathematics at the University of Oxford.

In his spare time, Dr Mayhew plays French horn in the Wellington Orchestra.

He will be travelling to the United States later this year, to work with colleagues in the Mathematics department at Princeton University.

Dr Mayhew’s Rotorua lecture is part of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 10x10 lecture series.

Public lecture: ‘Codes and ciphers - the mathematics of the internet’

5.30pm, Thursday 20 June 2013

Rimu Room, Scion, 49 Sala Street, Rotorua

Further details are available through the Royal Society of New Zealand website:

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