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Re: VMs: Is VMS unique - Was: Folio and Quire numbers

Hi Petr,

At 09:12 04/04/2004 +0200, you wrote:
IMHO VMS is unique. I've been making a loose and informal inventory of old
crypto methods and I've found examples from France, England, Italy, Germany,
Bohemia, and the Dutch Republic. All these methods are pretty standard and
would have been cracked by now.

Agreed. :-)

The fact that the VMS has not been cracked could point to a complex mix of
crypto methods. But I've found no evidence yet that such mixes were in use
in 1400 -1700.

Also agreed - though note that it has been often claimed that there are possibly 1000s of as-yet-uncracked documents in archives around the world (cf Marcello Simonetta's Pazzi letter, for example), so it is entirely possible that a diligent search may uncover other examples of mixed / hybrid cipher systems from this period (though I suspect that any such would probably prove somewhat simpler). FWIW, I believe that the only period in history likely to have given rise to such complex combinatorial systems would have been after the Peace of Lodi (post-1454) and before polyalpha (say, pre-1520).

Having said that, I also agree with Bruce that the VMs is most likely a one-off - a statistical outlier in a vast population of historical ciphers. However, I also think that everything we need to solve it is already staring us in the face, if we would only see it! :-o

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

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