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NUS Math Module Review: MA4261 Coding and Cryptography

Components: 2 Homework sets (5% each), Midterm test (30%) and Final Exam (60%)

Although this module is called Coding and Cryptography, oddly, those 2 topics have no overlapping content at all. Also, this module’s prerequisite is Algebra 2 or equivalent, but I reckon that one can understand this whole module with Algebra 1 and Linear Algebra 2 knowledge, so for pure math majors looking to learn advanced mathematical theory or whatnot, you might be utterly disappointed by the lack of rigour in this module. There is a lot of non-trivial proofs in the development of the cryptosystems and codes but they are mostly for enrichment, so don’t be daunted by the overly technical proofs in the lecture and focus more on the vast amount of content in the lecture notes.

Prof Ma has been the only one lecturing this module for at least the past 5 years so there’s a good number of PYP around for you to hone your skills. Midterms was slightly hard, the mean was around 30/50, there were quite a few proving questions and computational problems to solve over a span of 90 mins. As a result I think Prof Ma went lenient on setting the finals. Master the exam style, prepare a good cheatsheet and understand the homeworks and tutorials at the back of your hand, memorising the proofs in the lecture notes would be useful but not a must, otherwise doing the above should suffice to guarantee a good score under Prof Ma.

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