Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Swedish-American collaboration has finally broken the encrypted Copiale, a mysterious 18th century document that nobody could read - until now (including video)

Some people go to all lengths to read a book. Kevin Knight, a senior research scientist and member of the Institute of Information Science at the University of Southern California (USC), was intrigued by a 18th century document known as Copiale Key. I was curious about it because nobody can read it.

name of one of two non-coding entries in the document, this mysterious manuscript of 105 pages and is linked to the paper gold and green brocade. The manuscript consists of approximately 75,000 characters. These characters are very carefully by hand, but consist of a mixture of Roman letters baffling case sensitive, with an assortment of more than abstract symbols (see the sample pages above). In total, the figure contains 90 different characters, including 26 Latin letters without accents. Adding to the confusion is the lack of space between words.

Dr. Knight, who conducts research mainly in computational linguistics and machine translation, not well known in cryptography. But undeterred, began working this year with two Swedish linguists, Beata Megyesi and Christiane Schaefer, Uppsala University, to break the encryption Copiale.

After a few dead ends, the team found that the Romans designated character spaces between words as abstract symbols contained actual information. They also found that the colon indicates that the preceding consonant is doubled. After it is expected that this figure was a figure of the German language, and then subjected to a cryptographic analysis of the frequency of words, things quickly fell into place. The team finally able to read the text of the Code.

Dr. Knight and his colleagues found that the number Copiale describes the rituals and some of the political ideals of a secret society of Germany of the 1730s. He also learned that this company has been fascinated with eye surgery and ophthalmology, even if none of its members were physicians.

But why should we worry about a dusty old book that you could not read what was written by the members of a German secret society?

"This opens a window for people who study the history of ideas and the history of secret societies," says Knight. He cites several recent examples of difficult algorithms, such as communications The Zodiac killer California police yet been identified in 1960 and 1970, and the Kryptos sculpture, located on the grounds of CIA headquarters in the United States, which was only partially decoded.

You can read the original article from The Cipher Copiale [Free PDF] or download the original scanned the entire book [Free PDF]. Here is the full translation in English language [PDF free, added BST 1130].

Currently, Mr. Knight is working with former graduate student, Sujith Ravi, who has just received his Ph.D. in computer science from USC this year. Together we are working on translation as a cryptographic problem, an approach that could improve the translation of languages ??and can also be useful in the translation of languages ??that are not currently spoken by humans, including ancient languages. (Fans of ancient texts want to check out similar work in the script of the Indus by Dr. Rajesh Rao.) In my opinion, perhaps the most interesting application of this technology is the ability to decode animal communication.
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