Al-Kindi was born in Kufa to an aristocratic Kindah family, which had migrated there from Yemen. His full name was Abu-Yusuf Ya`qoub ibn `Ishaq ibn al-Sabbah ibn `Omran ibn Isma`il al-Kindi
(Arabic: أبو يوسف يعقوب ابن اسحاق ابن الصّبّاح ابن عمران ابن اسماعيل الكندي transliteration: Abū-Yūsuf Ya'qūb ibn Isḥāq ibn as-Ṣabbāḥ ibn 'Omrān ibn Isma'īl al-Kindī).
His father was the governor of Kufa, and al-Kindi received his first education there. He later completed his studies in Baghdad, where he was patronized by the Abbasid Caliphs al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim. Because of his learning and aptitude for study, al-Ma'mun appointed him to House of Wisdom (بيت الحكمة) in Baghdad, a recently recognized centre for the translation of philosophical and scientific texts. He was well known for his magnificent calligraphy, and at one point was employed as a calligrapher by al-Mutawakkil.
Contribution to information security
Al-Kindi was a pioneer in cryptography, especially cryptanalysis. In modern times, cryptography is considered a branch of both mathematics and computer science, and is affiliated closely with information theory, computer security, and engineering.
Cryptography is used in applications today in technologically advanced societies; examples include the security of ATM cards, computer passwords, and electronic commerce, which all depend on cryptography.
He gave the first known recorded explanation of cryptanalysis in
رسالة في إستخراج المعمة" "(Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages). In particular, he is credited with developing the frequency analysis method whereby variations in the frequency of the occurrence of letters could be analyzed and exploited to break ciphers (i.e. cryptanalysis by frequency analysis).
This was detailed in a text recently rediscovered in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul, A Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages, which also covers methods of cryptanalysis, encipherments, cryptanalysis of certain encipherments, and statistical analysis of letters and letter combinations in Arabic. This manuscript is also first known recorded explanation of cryptanalysis was given by Al-Kindi.
"Encipherments of letters divided into two parts" is among technique of cryptography introduced by Al-Kindi. The other method was the most fundamental technique for a cryptanalyst, frequency analysis.
Frequency analysis is the basic tool for breaking most classical ciphers. In natural languages, certain letters of the alphabet appear more frequently than others; in English, "E" is likely to be the most common letter in any sample of plaintext which is 13% of all letters.
Similarly, the digraph "TH" is the most likely pair of letters in English, and so on. Frequency analysis relies on a cipher failing to hide these statistics. For example, in a simple substitution cipher (where each letter is simply replaced with another), the most frequent letter in the cipher text would be a likely candidate for "E".
No doubt that Al-Kindi is a role-model for Muslim computer scientist especially to those who are involving in information security. It is not impossible for Muslim security professionals and cryptanalysts to become 21st century Al-Kindi by decipher and discover flaws in most recent technology in cryptography like Public-Key Cryptography and Quantum Cryptography.
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KAIBATHELEGACY: I myself would like to be the next Al-Kindi in the future. Insha Allah (God Willing). This post is actually my second assignment for History and Philosophy of Science.