Fred C. Piper and Sean Murphy “Cryptography: A very short introduction” – book review

Cryptography, by necessity, is a complex subject. If it were simple, it wouldn’t serve its purpose. I think the authors have done an exceptionally good job of explaining the principles without going very deep into the particulars.

Perhaps partially because of its complexity, and of course its pervasive presence in everyday life – cryptography is also fascinating. Do you want to know how an ATM protects your PIN – or why you can shop safely online? Do you want to learn what the safest code in the world is? Why are cryptographers so worried about the advent of quantum computing?

I’ve only read a few articles on cryptography before reading this book – and I did not have much contact with mathematics since I left school some nine years ago.

I thought it was a very useful book. It’s not exactly a page-turner, but if I slowed down and took the time to think through (and occasionally write down) the content, I was able to absorb it and more or less understand it.

If I were to make any improvements, it would be in adding even more diagrams. Pictures can be worth a thousand words – or at least, clarify the thousand words that are sitting next to them. If you are a beginner at cryptography and find yourself stuck in a paragraph, I can only say I recommend taking a pencil out and trying to draw your own explanation to it. It helps…

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