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Re: VMs: VMS generator table

Hi everyone,

On Friday 05 December 2003 01:08, Jeff wrote:
Find it here http://www.georgeboolefanclub.com/vmstextgenerator.html

Thanks for putting this up on your site, Jeff: clearly, your ideas have moved on from the earlier (Italian-plaintext-centric) set of tables you posted (and described) earlier.

However, what would you learn about English if you tried applying the same methodology to that instead? I'd suggest... probably not a great deal.

The whole point of building models is to use the process of trying them out (on real data) to throw light on what may be driving their behaviour. For example, people often use dynamic / multiple regression both to forecast a particular share price *and* to investigate what might be leading indicators (for example, dollar-sterling exchange rates, OECD consumer confidence metrics, etc) for that company.

Most people here who have looked at the VMs for a while will have an instinctive feel for what is (and what isn't) Voynichese: many will be able to convert that 'feel' into a model (for words or letters). But what do any of these models tell us about the VMs itself?

Voynichese contains a viciously tricky interplay between letter-adjacency rules, letter-position rules, and semantic content, whereby it's hard to tell where one stops and the other starts. This is (I believe) why statistics don't help us much, as we're continually measuring intermediate data, not final language data.

What, then, is the answer? The first step might well be to stop hoping that the VMs is a simply (sequentially) enciphered raw European plaintext - there appears to be little or no evidence to support this view. What seems far more likely is that its plaintext is a shorthand or private language, one probably based on a well-known European language (and furthermore probably Italian, Latin, or (say) Provencal), which is then enciphered in some steganographically non-obvious way.

I see this as more akin to Navajo encoding (sending a message via a private language) than to the Enigma machine (a computationally complex enciphering process). Always ask - how could someone have achieved this 500 years ago? If it's not an obviously polyalphabetic cipher (and in fact the stats are all wrong for that), then it *has* to be simpler than you think (to quote Steve E).

The second step is to try to work out what constitutes a single letter in the language/cipher. Many of the ciphers in the Milanese cipher ledger use pairs of letters to code for single plaintext letters, so this is quite reasonable. "qo"? "dy"? "ol"? "or"? "od"? "ii"? "ee"? "eee"? etc. But really, using EVA as the basis for your code is building on sand. What do you see when you look at the page itself?

The third step... well, to be honest I'm still working on the second step. :-o

The main thing to notice is that, in our quest to understand the VMs, statistics have yet to help us significantly (for example, we can't even say if it's a hoax or a code based on statistical evidence). Whatever the 'trick' to the VMs, it's an intensely "stats-unfriendly" one - so relying on just one set of stats (as you do) is highly unlikely to move you forward either.

Anyway, some stuff to think about as you plan your next move. :-)

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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