REVIEW: "Zimmerman's Algorithm", S. Andrew Swann
- BKZIMALG.RVW 20011126
"Zimmerman's Algorithm", S. Andrew Swann, 2000, 0-88677-865-4
%A S. Andrew Swann (Steven Swiniarski)
%C 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
%I DAW Books Inc.
%P 387 p.
%T "Zimmerman's Algorithm"
A thriller should have a convoluted plot, but this one has slightly
too many twists and turns for comfort. It's very difficult to keep
track of at least three sets of bad guys, and by the time the
penultimate plot is exposed I had a hard time caring who was
responsible. Still the action is brisk, and the writing is lively and
So is the fact that so much technology in the story is basically
correct. The outcomes are sometimes questionable, such as a computer
made with superconducting materials that physically (and not just
electrically) degrade at room temperature. But the fact that
researchers developing artificial materials are steadily working
towards room temperature superconductors is true.
The math isn't that bad, either. There is a slight overemphasis on
the need for primes in encryption systems, but it is interesting to
see a recognition of the controversy over enormous computer generated
The computer work is a bit weaker. Genetic algorithms are not
terribly well explained in the computer world in general, so it isn't
surprising that the detail in the book is a bit fuzzy. The discussion
of computer viruses as a form of artificial life is interesting, as is
the view of benignity as a survival factor, although the idea of
masses of undetected viruses hiding out on the Internet is a bit much.
(I must say, though, that, if you are going to propose the usual
undetectable virus, one that can write operating systems is a good
I would like to know whether the choice of name for the eponymous
mathematician was influenced by PGP.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKZIMALG.RVW 20011126
====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
It is interesting to note that before the advent of Microsoft
Windows, `GPF' was better known for its usage in plumbing:
Gallons Per Flush.
http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade