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Wolfram High School
Summer Research Program

Formerly known as the Wolfram High School Summer Camp

Bentley University, Boston, MA June 25–July 13, 2024


Daniel Cahn

Wolfram High School Summer Camp

Class of 2014


My name is Daniel Cahn and I am concluding my freshman year at the Ramaz School in Manhattan, New York. I feel that when man's outstanding creative ability is met by the incredible computational ability of modern technology, his potential is extraordinary. A significant amount of my time is spent delving into intricate discussions regarding all kinds of topics, especially philosophy, and I try to live my life by the words of Bill Nye: "Everyone you meet knows something you don't." From a young age, I have been teaching myself math, philosophy, and computer science, and taking online college courses at coursera.org to "never let my schooling interfere with my education" (Mark Twain). I built my first website in third grade, published my first app on the Google Play Store in seventh, and I will be studying calculus next fall. I am very involved with my school's debate team as well as its politics society, philosophy club, theology club, chess club, Torah Bowl team, and track team. I also serve as president of the programming club and Junior State of America chapter, and am also a member of the math team, where this year I was named "best in school" on the AMC 10.

Project: The Jefferson Disk Cipher

The Jefferson disk cipher is a cipher system using a set of disks, each with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet arranged around their edges. The letters on each disk are scrambled in a random order. A sender would rotate each disk up and down until a desired message is spelled out on one row. He would then copy down any row of text other than the one with the plaintext message and send it. The recipient would then rotate the disks so they spell out the ciphertext on one row, and then look at all of the other rows until he finds the plaintext message, which he would recognize because it would be the only one that's not gibberish

This Demonstration simulates the Jefferson disk cipher by generating a random sequence of disks using a cryptographic key as a seed for the random order. It also colors the text according to the probability that it is the plaintext (i.e. that it is proper English text); where the more red a given line of text is, the higher the probability that it is English. The sensitivity of this coloring algorithm is controllable with the "sensitivity" slider. The whole set of disks appears as just one cylinder because the plaintext is searched for automatically. All of the disks can be rotated with the "rotation" slider.