War in the Pacific: The Breaking of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Main Operational Code, JN-25

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Professor John MackA lecture by Professor John Mack AM PhD MA (Cantab) BSc, Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, Australia.
During the War in the Pacific, the Japanese Imperial Navy relied upon one main operational code, the JN-25 series. In 1944, it was estimated that the inability of the Allies to read JN-25 was depriving them of an astonishing sixty percent of all useful intelligence in the Pacific. The breaking of JN-25 proved enormously challenging, but ultimately enabled engagements such as the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto’s aircraft by US fighters. It also gave warning of the Japanese intention to capture Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea via the overland route (the Kokoda Track campaign). In his lecture, Professor Mack will describe the invaluable preparatory work done on this code in 1939-1941 and show how flaws in its design and operational use enabled it to be broken.
Professor John Mack AM PhD MA (Cantab) BSc has been an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney since 1997. He has played a major role in mathematics education for all school levels in New South Wales, Australia, generally and internationally. He spent most of his career in the Department of Pure Mathematics at the University of Sydney, before becoming Chair of the University's Academic Board from 1991 to 1997. Following retirement in 1997, he has conducted research on the breaking of Japanese codes during the Second World War, leading to a book which is soon to be published. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 for services to mathematics education, an area in which he remains involved.

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