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Cryptographic Fairy Tales

Tales of Alice, Bob and Charles
  (+13, -2)(+13, -2)
(+13, -2)
  [vote for,

In this collection of stories, Princess Alice is a fair maiden who (for reasons that develop along with the plot) has reason to send and receive messages between herself and Sir Bob, a gallant and trustworthy knight-errant, without them being intercepted, spoofed or otherwise interfered with, read or understood by the evil forces of Doctor Charles Signalàbruit.

In each chapter, Dr Charles employs a different method for attempting to circumvent Alice and Bob's correspondence, perhaps initially through simple methods such as copying Alice's handwriting, parchmentpaper, inks, or (much later) employing millions of elves to perform a brute-force cryptographic attack. Alice and Bob in turn, figure out some improved cryptographic methods for outfoxing their would-be surveillors.

While I'm skipping over the detail here, the stories themselves should concentrate on the motivations of Bob and Alice in terms of their continuing love-affair, making it as non-technical as possible. The increasingly complex efforts that Alice and Bob go to fall hand in hand with their rise up the political ladder, allowing other players, organisational themes and pitfalls to be worked into the story.

So structured, the story could act both as an instructional manual for the youth, as well as providing a useful narrative for aspiring cryptographers of a more venerable age.

I'd like to see other examples where technical detail is writ as narrative - if it hasn't already been tried, I think it could catch on.

zen_tom, Sep 06 2011

Halfbakery: Pseudocode Libraries Pseudocode Libraries
Something in [Ian Tindale]'s idea sort of suggests that one representation that peope find meaningful is a narrative of some kind. [zen_tom, Sep 07 2011]

Wikipedia: Alice and Bob http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Alice_and_Bob
[zen_tom, Sep 07 2011]

Bob Carolgees http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spit_the_dog
Were he made a knight today, would he be Sir Robert, or Sir Bob? [zen_tom, Sep 07 2011]

Family tree for the name 'Bob' http://www.behindth...e.com/name/bob/tree
your uncle [Loris, Sep 07 2011]

XKCD http://xkcd.com/872/
Are there eigenvectors in "Cinderella"? [jutta, Sep 12 2011]

Computational Fairy Tales http://www.amazon.c...ubica/dp/1477550291
"Have you ever thought that computer science should include more dragons and wizards? Computational Fairy Tales introduces principles of computational thinking, illustrating high-level computer science concepts, the motivation behind them, and their application in a non-computer—fairy tale—domain. The goal of this book is not to provide comprehensive coverage of each topic, but rather to provide a high level overview of the breadth and excitement of computer science. It’s a quest that will take you from learning the basics of programming in a blacksmith’s forge to fighting curses with recursion. Fifteen seers delivered the same prophecy, without so much as a single minstrel to lighten the mood: an unknown darkness threatens the kingdom. Suddenly, Princess Ann finds herself sent forth alone to save the kingdom. Leaving behind her home, family, and pet turtle Fido, Princess Ann must face goblin attacks, magical curses, arrogant scholars, an unpleasant oracle, and rude Boolean waiters. Along the way she must build a war chest of computational knowledge to survive the coming challenge." [zen_tom, Aug 21 2014]

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead http://en.m.wikiquo...ern_Are_Dead_(film)
Written and directed by Tom Stoppard [8th of 7, Aug 21 2014]


       I think the participant's names need to fit with the theme better.   

       brave Sir Robert, evil wizard Charles and his minion the spy Eve (princess Alice's chambermaid), perhaps?
Loris, Sep 06 2011

       Such a book would turn happy, innocent and trusting children into suspicious, bitter, cynical and spiteful parodies of adults.   

       Excellent [+].
8th of 7, Sep 06 2011

       There should be a story about a "hill climbing" attack that in some way involves Alice and Bob actually climbing hills.
hippo, Sep 07 2011

       (+) Definitely something I've been thinking a lot about, a method of surreptitiously teaching real world skills inside children's stories or games. Every time my daughter asks to watch Sponge Bob, I can almost feel her getting dumber.   

       You also might be interested in reading "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson, as something close to this idea is covered.
MisterQED, Sep 07 2011

       //Alice and Bob are the defacto nomenclature (for er people) for PKI explanations.//   

       The clue that I knew that was in the other name I suggested.   

       Princess Alice is fine, Charles is okay (although given the form, I proposed as an evil wizard rather than a doctor).
But Sir Bob just doesn't work, it's an anachronism. Has to be Sir Robert.
Loris, Sep 07 2011

       OK, how about making Bob a commoner? (Is using Sir Bob an anacronism, or a "classism"? I'm not sure what would happen if the handler of "Spit" the dog were beknighted any time soon) (He may yet turn out to be of noble breeding) Having done a bit more reading around the subject, I understand that Mallory is an oft-used name for a malicious attacker, so that's an option too.
zen_tom, Sep 07 2011

       Science fiction books (for a for instance) often fall foul of momentum-strangling passages of fantasy political or spacerobot exposition, which is a risk here: the basic principles of cryptography could probably be despatched by way of fizzy banter but once the principles are understood, you'll be delving into increasingly detailed mechanics. This is a flip-reverse of SF's often front-loaded expositionary passages, where, once the scene is set in brain-fading detail, the narrative takes off, free to soar, ramble or mope, depending. So, the trick with CFTs would be to make the narrative exponentially more exciting with each layer of cryptographic explanation, the reader soon giddy with a combination of adrenaline and fizzing brainbox. How you'd do that, I have no idea.
calum, Sep 07 2011

       //more exciting with each layer... the reader soon giddy with a combination of adrenaline and fizzing brainbox. How you'd do that, I have no idea//   

       Lots of sex and violence.
theleopard, Sep 07 2011

       //OK, how about making Bob a commoner? (Is using Sir Bob an anacronism, or a "classism"?//   

       I should point out that I reserve the right to be wrong.
It just doesn't feel right to me; it's like having a shop called "ye olde pizzaland".
Loris, Sep 07 2011

       It's funny that MisterQED should mention 'The Diamond Age', as this idea set me thinking of another Neal Stephenson novel, 'Cryptonomicon', which introduces the reader to various bits of information theory as the plot progresses.
DrBob, Sep 12 2011

       waiting for [FlyingToaster] to weigh in...
4whom, Sep 12 2011

       One of my favourite authors, David Weber, is prone to mind-numbing battle statistics, which import can fortunately be gleaned from the accompanying narrative.   

       However, since it can be easily blipped over, I'll grant that it adds to the story rather than detracts.   

       I already [+]'d it.   

       what [calum] said.
FlyingToaster, Sep 12 2011

       //Lots of sex and violence //   

       Consecutively or concurrently?   

       "We're more of the love, blood and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see."   

8th of 7, Aug 21 2014

       I have two words for you: Neal Stephenson.
normzone, Aug 21 2014

       Good film choice, 8th!
DrBob, Aug 21 2014

       Precedes my own idea by three years, but not a single mention of Nogbad the Bad. Tch!
not_morrison_rm, Aug 22 2014


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