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Lessons From Bletchley
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Lessons From Bletchley

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Presentation given at the Microsoft UK Architect Council Meeting at Bletchley Park …

Presentation given at the Microsoft UK Architect Council Meeting at Bletchley Park

Presented by Rupert Brown, Ian Race

Published in: Business, Technology
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Transcript

  • 1. Lessons from Bletchley Rupert Brown and Ian Race Global Markets and Research Technology June 2009 V0.2 Draft
  • 2. THEPR OBLEM
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    • AFFCB NQEQY DSCPM IMHQP NLHHX GQBWM EXTCF RSSBN MJJYA AZCUU NGGIO
  • 3. THE PR OBLEM
    • I DIYM T PTJZ S FIIT A CNSA L KNGE L FUDC I NDKR N NCFV C RRXO O MMPE D WAAL E UZZI
    • A FFCB N QEQY D SCPM I MHQP N LHHX G QBWM E XTCF R SSBN M JJYA A ZCUU N GGIO
  • 4. Precursors to Bletchley
    • International Telegraphic network (aka Victorian Internet)
    • Mature Electromechanical Technology Capabilities
    • Switch to HF Radio for wireless transmission.
    • Large scale Command and Control investments in UK during 1930’s in the run up to WW2
      • Railways – (Centralised Line control e.g. LMS Bletchley Control)
      • National Grid (went live in 1941)
      • Fighter Command
  • 5. Bletchley’s Unique Technical Achievements
    • First Stored Program “Computer” i.e. Colossus
      • Including parallel execution techniques
      • Engineered to solve the initial problem and the next probable problem
    • Initiated the transition from Electromechanical to solid state data processing devices to provide the capability to meet the performance requirements demanded
  • 6. Bletchley’s “Architectural” achievements
    • Created complex large scale data collection network – Y Stations
    • Reduced Code Breaking process times to intraday by 1945
    • Rigorous Process Control to ensure quality – use of “Pair” techniques at intercept stations
    • Data Staging and Preprocessing techniques – Newmanry and Testery
    • Statisical control and sampling techniques to select most significant traffic.
    • Had to manage partial/inconsistently coded/unreliable data
  • 7. People Factors
    • All systems are a combination of ego & mathematics
      • Never more true than in this case
    • Recruited a selection of good people with different skill sets
    • Team work – huts
    • Individual key input improved and built on by others
    • Support from huge population with partition of labour
    • Elevator pitch (letter to Churchill)
    • Assisted by poor practice
  • 8. Operational Risk – or More People
    • Enigma operators did things specifically instructed not too
    • Repeated (Operational Risk) assessments concluded no code break
    • Experts were believed
    • Beliefs were (apparently) not tested
    • The allies in their coding practice did not make the same mistakes
  • 9. Project Management and Delivery issues
    • Price of failure was well defined and visible every day codes were not broken
    • Limited resources
      • Skills
      • Material
    • No attractive green field technologies or vendor roadmap to distract effort
    • No “Personal” Computers – just pencils and squared paper.
    • Limited budget – Churchill personally intervened to provide extra spend
    • Military Command and Civil Service = Pointy Haired Boss
  • 10. Some observations
    • Problem had to be solved by detailed rigorous mathematical analysis of the data
    • There was almost no prior art – (other than the early Polish Bombes + Von Neumann)
    • Problem domain was fairly limited – non functional requirements (i.e. time) were dominant
    • No partially correct result data possible
    • Resultant data was in German and also Italian so needed further manual translation and interpretation – this was a different skill set from the cryptographers
  • 11. Key Lessons
    • Life or Death is the ultimate project motivator
    • Lack of choice and scarcity drives automation, efficiency and innovation
    • Quality/Integrity of input data is paramount (GIGO).
    • Domain aligned / Partitioned organizational structure needed
    • Sustained Sponsorship at the highest level is a critical enabler
    • Technology addresses Non-Functional problems
    • Luck still played a critical part

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