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Mathematics Goes to the Movies
by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross
Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) is hired by men posing as NSA agents to steal a code breaking device developed by the mathematician Dr. Gunter Janek.
FAKE NSA MAN: This is a mathematician named Dr. Gunter Janek. Works at a think tank called the Coolidge Institute. Specializes in large-number theory, prime numbers, factoring.
Janek giving a lecture
JANEK: While the number-field sieve is the best method currently known, there exists an intriguing possibility for a far more elegant approach. Here we would find a composition of extensions, each Abelian over the rationals, and hence contained in a single cyclotomic field. Using the Artin map, we might induce homomorphisms from the principal orders in each of these fields that z by f z. These maps could then be used to combine splitting information from all the fields…
Interspersed with this
LIZ: This isn’t just about large-number theory. It’s about cryptography.
MARTIN: You mean codes?
LIZ: I mean unbreakable codes.
JANEK: … this in turn would require the standard Kummer extensions that nontorsion form of the Jacobians of the Fermat curves gives rise to. It would be a breakthrough of Gaussian proportions and allow us to acquire the solution in a dramatically more efficient manner. Now, I should emphasise that such an approach is purely theoretical. So far, no one has been able to accomplish such constructions, yet.
At a party following the lecture
JANEK: The numbers are so unbelievably big all the computers in the world could not break them down. But maybe, just maybe there is a shortcut.
Anagrams are used extensively in the movie to show some kind of encryption/decryption mechanism at work. In this scene Martin is using Scrabble pieces to come up with anagrams of the expression Setec astronomy (-> Too many secrets).
Anagrams were also used to good effect in the title sequence where anagrams
of meaningful expression are unscrambled into these expressions.
A TURNIP CURES ELVIS -> UNIVERSAL PICTURES
(UNIVERSAL PICTURES PRESENTS)
A FEW ASTRAL CLERKS REPEL NEWARK -> LAWRENCE LASKER
WALTER F. PARKES
(A LAWRENCE LASKER WALTER F. PARKES PRODUCTION)
BLOND RHINO SPANIEL -> PHIL ALDEN ROBINSON
(A PHIL ALDEN ROBINSON FILM)
FORT RED BORDER -> ROBERT REDFORD48:30