One of the great Allied accomplishments of World War II was breaking the code for the Enigma machine, a German-designed cipher device that had allowed the Axis military to transmit messages in secret. The machine and efforts to decrypt it captured the attention of some of the top mathematicians in Europe, but an interactive visualization published this week presents Enigma in a much more intuitive form. Using business analytics and visualization software Tableau, Cleveland-based data analyst Noah Salvaterra created a functioning Enigma machine. The Visual Enigma lets users input a message, change the complexity parameters to their liking, and watch as the machine generates the output message. The machine’s inner workings are still complicated even with the visualization’s help, but Salvaterra provides a helpful overview for curious readers.
Travis Korte is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation specializing in data science applications and open data. He has a background in journalism, computer science and statistics. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, he launched the Science vertical of The Huffington Post and served as its Associate Editor, covering a wide range of science and technology topics. He has worked on data science projects with HuffPost and other organizations. Before this, he graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley, having studied critical theory and completed coursework in computer science and economics. His research interests are in computational social science and using data to engage with complex social systems. You can follow him on Twitter @traviskorte.