TESOL, Technology, and EdTech

My Journal, Day 4

Date: 2024-02-20

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7

On The Bus

Something awkward has its claws in my brain, and I'm not liking it.

Nnedi, personal query. How many of my SoMe posts has Malik boosted and or starred? Personal query required Nnedi to keep it even more secret than usual from my parents, counselors, etc. unless it was involved in something that tripped a mandated reporter routine.

I was wondering when you would notice. I was almost as far as wondering if you would notice. He has boosted almost 75% of your recent posts and starred over 90% of them. He even recently went back and starred several of your posts as far back as 3 years ago.

Shit. Fuck. Shitfuck. It wasn't that I wasn't noticing; it was that I didn't want to think about it. Why do people have to go making life complicated?

I believe it has something to do with chemical imbalances inherent in the biology of all known DNA-based life. Or perhaps that was a rhetorical question? Also, would you like me to define inherent for you?

Sit and spin, Nnedi. Also, obviously you agree that it means what I think it means. Fuck. I wish I was like you and didn't have to worry about this sort of shit.

We are at school. Would you like to continue this conversation later? Also, you said not to ask, but in this case I think I need to — should I include this in the journal?

Thanks. To answer your questions, yes and no. Yes, continue later, and no, don't include this part. Ms. Fancy Hair would probably think it was cute or something equally barf worthy. It won't bother her or gross her out, so drop it. And, thanks for checking.

You're welcome.

Part of me was sure that Nnedi had a different, smart-ass reply ready, but decided against it. That kind of made me feel worse. Fuck you Malik. No, I mean ... Fuck it, I know what I meant. God, I hate people. How did people used to put up with other people 24 hours a day, with no agents to talk to? Must have been hell.

In Tech Class

What do you mean, Martin factored it? How in the holy hell did Martin factor it already? No one else's agent has factored it yet! Somehow, Nah'Sequa's agent, Martin, had already completed the homework! He somehow factored 3071218719345904359889715609397950143592330820586243630400083 before Maria, before Michael, before Nnedi, even. Not possible; not believing it.

You want me to tell you the factors? Nnedi can tell us right away if I'm lying.

No, don't tell me! But, how about you put your supposed factors in a T3P slot and we can compare when everyone else finishes? Fair?

Fair. Martin, hash and sign the factors and deposit in a trusted third party slot. You, Nnedi, and Michael can build and split the keys.

... T3P set up completed. Nnedi and Michael have confirmed the slot and the keys.

I'm really confused, because I know that Nah'Sequa is smart enough to know she'll be found out if she is lying. But, Martin is in no way smart enough to have gotten the factors before Nnedi, or even Michael.

Nnedi, go to Holmes mode. If Nah'Sequa is telling the truth about having the factors, how could that have happened? What are the chances that Martin just got lucky and got them before you or Michael?

Statistically, it is almost impossible for that to have happened. Also, I am familiar with the factoring software used in his model. It is open source, like mine, and very similar to the code I use. Because we use open source code, we both basically have the same algorithms, and they are the best freely available pre-quantum algos. Some proprietary code may possibly be better. But even if there are better algos, it is most doubtful that Martin somehow acquired such code. Not code advanced enough to have gotten the factors before Michael or me. Certainly not several hours or more before us.

But she knows that, so why lie? And why agree to a T3P? That can't be faked, right? She puts the data in, hashes and signs it, then the three of them sign it together. It is further encrypted in transit, then the hardware keeps it immutable. They can't unlock it without all the keys, right? Best she can do is delete the slot, but that would be recorded! She can't pretend her dog ate it or something.

Nah'Sequa does have significant cyber skills, but her being able to fake or otherwise hack a T3P is far more unlikely even than Michael finding the factors so quickly through simple luck. As you described, the whole point of trusted third parties is that they are tamper-proof. Nah'Sequa, or anyone else, breaking one would be significant news, worldwide.

So, Holmes, what do you think? How else could she have gotten the factors?

You believe that she does in fact have the correct factors?

I remember enough from your explanation to know that checking the results would be trivially easy. Just multiply the factors together and see if they really give the original number. Nah'Sequa would know right away if Martin have given her bad results. Hell, he'd check his results himself before telling her he had finished factoring. No, I think she must have the real factors. But, how?

A few possibilities come to mind. Shall I expound on them now? Expound means to explain in detail, by the way.

Smart ass! I knew what you meant. But, no not now. Ponder on the possibilities for a while and give me a summary later. But expound to your heart's content in the journal. Let's share the fun with Ms. Fancy Hair.

Geometry Class

I have the factors. They are 17144395205741315420869183121 and 179138352942156546395629390812323. It took me approximately 26 hours, 18 minutes, and 7 seconds to discover. The assigned number was in fact the product of two primes, which is why it took me so long. Shall I share with Michael and check Nah'Sequa's T3P?

Just a sec. Hey, Malik, Nnedi got the factors! How's Michael doing?

He's still working ... wait a sec ... he just got them. Michael, send your results.

Yup, that's what I got, too.

You got? Nnedi doesn't like me taking credit for her work.

Yeah, okay. Nnedi got that too, Malik. Let's check Nah'Sequa's T3P.

The results of the T3P match our results. Nah'Sequa did in fact have the factors before us Michael and Nnedi said it in unison. They must have planned that.

And you and Michael are sure the T3P was legit? Not tampered with? Nah'Sequa didn't somehow change out the contents or the entire T3P?

Correct. We have both confirmed the validity of the T3P slot. It is almost certainly the case that Nah'Sequa did not tamper with it in any way. That would be akin to the sun rising in the west. Akin means like or analogous to.

Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

What? Malik was mas confused.

Don't worry about it. Just a saying. I'm surprised you've not heard it before. Don't know why I put any effort into that. Michael was just going to find the reference and explain it to Malik anyhow. I hope he enjoys the movie.

Also, Nnedi, I know what fucking akin means. I'm sure Nnedi knows that. She also knows how much her comments irk me, and enjoys it.

But, how did she get those factors? Malik looked at me. Maybe Nnedi isn't the only one with some special abilities?

I don't know. I mean, there's special abilities and then there's the laws of math. Nnedi was pretty clear about how hard factoring large numbers is without quantum. It's like stupid difficult.

So, Martin must have gotten lucky.

Seems that way. I wasn't eating that dog food, but I honestly didn't have a better idea, yet.

At Home That Night

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Only if this is a Pinky and the Brain joke. If not, then I doubt it.

Well played. But, no, I think I have an idea of how Nah'Sequa got the factors. You go first. What have you come up with?

I have narrowed it down to the two most likely possibilities: either Nah'Sequa cheated or she is a true mathematical genius. I think the second more likely.

I was thinking cheated myself. It's the only explanation that makes sense. Where do you get genius from?

I was originally leaning toward cheating myself, but I could find no evidence of the given number anywhere on the internet; light, dark, onion, -chan, or otherwise. Nothing, after hours of searching. Further, this assignment from last year used a different number. Obviously, Mx Big Trousers does not want students getting the answer from a previous student. Thus, I reasoned that if I could not find the answers anywhere, the chances that Nah'Sequa could were close-to-zero low.

That follows, but it is a big jump to genius. How'd that happen?

Holmes mode, remember? When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. If the answer is not available, and Michael is incapable of finding it himself in the given time frame, then the only remaining plausible explanation is that she — or someone around her — is an actual, true, one-in-a-billion genius, at least with respect to mathematics. It would also explain her effortless acquisition of all things cyber.

You are assuming that she didn't just find a more powerful AI to do it for her. Or maybe use quantum algos?

Correct. Having communicated with Martin in the past, I am aware that he is the best agent of anyone in her family, by quite a ways. Several of her younger siblings are group 1 students. If she had access to an AI powerful enough to have factored that number overnight, she would not have Martin as her personal agent. It is possible that she hacked into a government or corporate system to do it, but she is smart enough to understand the long-term consequences of such an action. It would not be worth it for a high school assignment, and she knows this. In the time that we have known her, she has never shown the sort of impulsiveness that would be required for her to take such a huge risk for so little reward.

Further, if she used quantum, Mx Big Trousers would know; the computational data must be turned in with the homework answer. It would take a genius to fake that sort of data successfully. So, either she, or someone near her, figured it out or she used quantum and successfully turned in fake data. Either way, genius.

Wow. So, genius. Warm up that chainsaw.

You do seem to have a fixation with that chainsaw. Metaphorical only, I hope?

Of course! What, did you think I was going to use a chainsaw on my genius friend? We don't even have a chainsaw!

Friend? When did that happen? Or did you mean to say frenemy?

Well, yeah, I guess frenemy is maybe closer. But, it isn't every day you discover that your frenemy is a genius. Seems like someone you maybe don't want as your frenemy.

Also, why the fuck is she at St. Abdi's? If she can actually factor a freaking 60 digit number in her freaking head, she should be homeschooled by the freaking NSA! I mean ... I'm not sure what to think here. Why the hell is she at St. Abdi's? Why hasn't she told anyone?

Excellent questions. I think it would be best if we not tell anyone about our conclusions.

Okay, yeah, I can see that. But next I'm wondering why she told us about the factors? She had to know we would never believe that Martin did it.

Perhaps she thought we would not be able to make the jump to suspecting her? Or perhaps something unexpected happened — perhaps Martin submitted her results before she wanted him to, so she had to go with it? It is already after 2:00. I can ponder on it while you sleep, if you like.

Yeah, please. Go ahead and remove anything about Nah'Sequa and the factors from the journal. Ms. Fancy Hair doesn't need to know about any of this. After that, do your thing. Wake me at 5:00, please. Doubt I'm going to get much sleep tonight, though.

Done. Hashing and signing. I'll wake you in approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, at 5:00. Perhaps with a Gödel, Escher, and Bach collaboration?

As long as it isn't Christian Slater and or Wynona Rider.

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