A fiendishly tricky puzzle that has baffled cryptographers for two decades has been solved, and the proof preserved on the BCH and BTC blockchains. The feat, which was achieved 15 years earlier than the puzzle’s architects had anticipated, was commemorated with another premature reveal – the opening of a special time capsule.
Moore’s Law Estimated This Puzzle Would Take 35 Years to Solve
In April 1999, cryptographers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conceived a puzzle that was expected to take 35 years to solve. Last month, however, self-taught programmer Bernard Fabrot revealed that he had cracked it. The Belgian spent three and a half years working on the conundrum. As MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab explained:
The puzzle essentially involves doing roughly 80 trillion successive squarings of a starting number, and was specifically designed to foil anyone trying to solve it more quickly by using parallel computing.
Shortly after Fabrot cracked the puzzle, Simon Peffers, a former engineer at Intel, published his own proof. Reflecting on the remarkable achievement, MIT professor Ron Rivest said “There have been hardware and software advances beyond what I predicted in 1999. The puzzle’s fundamental challenge of doing roughly 80 trillion squarings remains unbroken, but the resources required to do a single squaring have been reduced by much more than I predicted.”
Bernard Fabrot who solved the puzzle.
Time Capsule Cracked Open Early
When the puzzle was conceived in 1999, it was promised that if a correct solution was uncovered earlier than predicted, MIT would open a time capsule designed by architect Frank Gehry which contained historical artifacts from luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee,