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Blog Computing Science - Security & Cryptography 4 16/May/2005

Oftentimes these days, I've been sitting studying and wanted to let out a primal scream. If there are people around, I usually manage to keep it in, but SAC has pushed me over the edge.

Rijndael. Rijndael. Rijndael. Rijndael. Rijndael. Rijndael. Rijndael.

That's better.

I shall spare you a detailed description of the paper: Chris has beaten me to it. What it suffices to say is that it was a difficult exam, no question, and far more difficult than the 2004 paper (insert usual caveat about hindsight and sitting with a sample answer), which, given the bipolar nature of these things, is perhaps to be expected.

I was initially surprised that question 1 (modular arithmetic, knapsacks, secret key safekeeping) proved so unpopular: to me, it seemed the most straightforward, though I don't and probably never will know how to construct a superincreasing knapsack cipher with a keyspace entropy of 512. Question 2 looked unpleasant to me because of all the marks for elections (not my area of expertise), and I wasn't overly keen to talk about the Oakley improvements to Diffe-Hellman, but I hedged my bets, and went for question 3 where the marks seemed a little easier to achieve.

The problem with this exam was the number of fiddly details that had to be remembered. I commented on the way in today that Ron could contrive an exam that would utterly stump me (a big question on EMV, a big question on elections, something intricate about Rijndael, a vague question on PGP and a detailed question on Oakley cookies ought to have done it). Fortunately, he didn't have the audacity to do that :P, but it was still one of the hardest SAC exams I've seen.

It should be noted that today marked the start of the infamous week of death for the unfortunate people who chose SAC4, SCS4, NCT4, DBIT4 and SEP4. Good luck to everybody doing SCS tomorrow!*

Cheers,

Derek.

PS. It's too bad nobody doing SCS is blogging the exams, since they could put details of the questions up tonight!

 
CommentsComments 

Cabumbo said:
Well it is the night before NCT and i am knackered, so i have currently given up studying and i am gonna go watch CSI. Just wanted to ask you D if you could put up a pre-dbit post explaining the sheer wankness that is the course, so that i can vent my anger and have a good old rant.

Cheers

Cab

Cabumbo said:
Man you have a character limit on your url field. Thats why my url spakked twice :/

Derek said:
Cheers for spotting the bug, Mark. Should be fixed now!

(For the curious, it was a cautionary tale about the dangers of copy-and-paste coding. For shame!)

Cabumbo said:
Yes i spakked up my link that time, it should have been what it is now :/

Cabumbo said:
Weel i have to say something here as i am feeling left out. Just back from teh SCS paper and i was pleasantly surprised to find most people walked out happy. It was better than expected but still a few wanky bits. As for sac, well it was trampo that set the paper so maybe he found the questions at the bottom of a LiDL bag...

5 in the bag and 3 to go. Friday here we cpme.

Best go study some more for NCT as i havnae done any for weeks.

PS derek your anti spam is poo, there wasn't even a number there to enter, then when you put one in you get a javascript alert no less. I had to go to the error page to get a number to enter. Poor work :p

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