Spreadsheet conditional formatting illuminates investigations into modular arithmetic

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Book Chapter

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Miller, D. A., & Sugden, S. (2011). Spreadsheet conditional formatting illuminates investigations into modular arithmetic. In M. A. Lau & S. J. Sugden (Eds.), Applications of spreadsheets in education: The amazing power of a simple tool (pp. 64-83). Sharjah, UAE: Bentham Science Publishers.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 130208

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Modular arithmetic has often been regarded as something of a mathematical curiosity, at least by those unfamiliar with its importance to both abstract algebra and number theory, and with its numerous applications. However, with the ubiquity of fast digital computers, and the need for reliable digital security systems such as RSA, this important branch of mathematics is now considered essential knowledge for many professionals. Indeed, computer arithmetic itself is, ipso facto, modular. This chapter describes how the modern graphical spreadsheet may be used to clearly illustrate the basics of modular arithmetic, and to solve certain classes of problems. Students may then gain structural insight and the foundations laid for applications to such areas as hashing, random number generation, and public-key cryptography.

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