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VMs: Thoughts about Roman numbers in the VMS
Since the topic was mentioned again, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the
idea of the VM being written in something like Roman numerals.
The most obvious approach to this would be that every "group" we find in the VM
corresponds to a (modified Roman) number. A codebook would hold the
correspondences of numbers and plaintext words.
*) This explains the preference of certain glyphs for word beginnings or ends,
*) If we assume that the codebook wasn't set up alphabetically, but logically
(words belonging to the same topic share the same range of numbers, eg all
flower names have numbers between 1000 and 1100), we can explain sequences of
very similar groups: These would indicate a row of words concerning the same topic,
*) It's naturally that short groups are relatively rare,
*) The VM's comparatively large vocabulary (8000 groups -- ?) is a consequence
of the fact that every individual word form requires its own codebook number, ie
"have", "has" and "had" are three different numbers,
*) Having the same glyph three or four times in a row is no longer a problem.
Unfortunately, this approach has its drawbacks as well:
*) Even with a very conservative approach, there are at least 12 to 14 different
glyphs used in the VM. That's considerably more than the usual 7 Roman numerals,
and more than the 10 Arab digits,
*) It doesn't explain why paragraphs virtually always begin with gallows,
*) It's not practical,since the VM would only be secret as long as the codebook
I see the last point as a considerable practical problem. Using a codebook in
the exchange of messages is not much of a danger, since the message is most
prone to get intercepted during the transport, when the codebook need not be
transferred along. But if you've got a book on the shelf for the world to see,
and have to have a codebook right next to it -- the chance of both getting
compromised simultaneously is high.
Just some rambling. Any ideas how to modify this system to make it more applicable?
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