Latin-American Workshop on Computational Neuroscience
November 22-24, 2017

Enigma Machine

The LAWCN event aims to disseminate advances in knowledge in Neurosciences provided by Computer Science, which is the main goal of the area known as Computational Neuroscience. In this sense, due to the fact that in 2017 Alan Turing's 105th birthday is celebrated, a British scientist considered one of the founding scientists of Computing and the fact that the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul is one of the few universities in the world that owns a original Enigma machine of World War II, the organizers are programming a special machine demonstration session, on 11/21/2017, at the Institute of Informatics of UFRGS, as a pre-Workhop activity.

As was well known, during World War II, Nazi Germany used an extremely complex message encryption system, which encrypted information inside a typewriter-size machine with mechanical rotors, multiple cables with interchangeable connections and other peculiarities, that made the decoding of the messages practically impossible for the time. Theoretically only with another machine, with the same configuration as the one that generated the message could decipher it. One of the few Enigma machines left in the world is at UFRGS, a pioneer in the world as an academic institution that has such a historical artifact. The Enigma A2200, which was used by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) is the only present in Latin America.

About this problem thousands of scientists gathered in Bletchley Park, which brought together in England more than 10,000 people in counter-espionage efforts, including the English mathematician Alan Turing, who sought ways to break the coding. At that time, there and elsewhere, was born what we now know as computers.

In this sense, we will perform practical demonstration of the Enigma machine, showing how the procedures of encryption and decryption of texts were performed.

Below are photos of the last demonstration of the Enigma A2200 machine in 2013.