This image has a secret message: Congratulations - You Solved the Puzzle!
Art by Pat Simpson


This image has a secret message: Congratulations - You Solved the Puzzle! But how are the images decoded? The answers are deciphered using a type of math and computer analysis known as stenography, the practice of concealing and decoding "messages" in nonsecret text, data, or images.

Applied Mathematics MS

If you're someone who loves solving these kinds of riddles and want to make it a career, IUP has the perfect master's program for you. In the Applied Mathematics MS at IUP, you'll gain a solid background in applied mathematics, statistics, real-life problem solving, and operations research using state-of-the-art software that will prepare you for a career in steganography or to continue forward for a PhD.

This program offers internship credits with faculty who will help you find the internship that best suits your interests, giving you real-world experience that could lead to full-time employment.

Interested in learning more about the Applied Mathematics MS? Check out our program website for specific program and course related details.

Want to figure this puzzle out for yourself? Here's how:

First, you'll need both the original image and the image with hidden messages and then a software package, such as Matlab, that can disclose the detail information of a jpeg file.

Every color is a combination of different levels of red, green, and blue. Each pixel in a digital color image has three values corresponding to these three levels.

To decode the first message, take the red level of every pixel from the image with the hidden message and then subtract the red level of every pixel from the original image. Assuming that the hidden message is in the first column of the image, after subtraction, you'll get the following 0 & 1 sequences:


Next, each 7-bit sequence is associated with a letter or a symbol, through ASCII table. Look into the ASCII code table to find out which character each binary number represents, and you will be able to get the corresponding letters.

We bet you have some questions now. Like, how do you know which color was used to hide the messages? What if ASCII code wasn't used? What if the message is scattered through all three colors? Enroll in our Applied Mathematics MS and find out!