# VMs: Desription of the Fincher algorithm (longish)

```(This is my interpretation of Marke Fincher's description -- Marke, please
correct me if I'm wrong.)

The hypothesis is, that the VM is a "hoax" in as far as it doesn't contain
meaningful content. Rather, the text is made up from a string of copying
actions from a "master table" which itself is just a sequence of random
scribbles.

The following steps are required:

1.) Devise a rudimentary "alphabet"; a set of characters.

2.) From these characters, form a number of sentences, and write them down on a
sheet of paper. The individual sentences are called "master sequences", the
whole paper is the "master table".

Note: At this point, there are no dedicated rules how to set up the words, etc.
Just the more or less random words made up by the author. Also note that the
whole size of the master table is no more than 1000 or perhaps 2000 characters.

A master table might look like this (for convenience, written in latin
characters, and with a meaningful text from the Wikipedia):

Master table:
----------------------------------------------------------
This has been the working hypothesis for most decipherment
attempts in the 20th century, including an informal team
of NSA cryptographers led by William F. Friedman in the
early 1950s. Simple substitution ciphers can be excluded,
because they are very easy to crack; so decipherment efforts
have generally focused on polyalphabetic ciphers
----------------------------------------------------------

3.) Now, take a piece of cardboard, and cut a rectangular hole in it. This will
be the "Fincher window". Its height is one line of text, and its width is an
unknown number of characters. The width is called the "sequence length".

Note: It is possible that the Fincher window will serve to copy _varying_
numbers of characters, depending on the spacing of characters on the master
table.

4.) Put the Fincher window on some arbitrary position on the master table, and
copy the visible characters onto what is to become the VM:

Master table:
----------------------------------------------------------
This has been the working hypothesis for most decipherment
attempts ------------ entury, including an informal team
of NSA c|yptographers|led by William F. Friedman in the
early 19 ------------ bstitution ciphers can be excluded,
because they are very easy to crack; so decipherment efforts
have generally focused on polyalphabetic ciphers
----------------------------------------------------------

Note: The string of characters copied in one such action I have dubbed
a "batch".

Voynich:

----------------------------------------------------------
yptographers
----------------------------------------------------------

5.) Repeat this as often as you like:

Master table:
----------------------------------------------------------
This has been the working hypothesis for most decipherment
attempts in the 20th century, including an informal team
of NSA cryptographers led by William F. Friedman in the
early 1950s. Simple su ------------ hers can be excluded,
because they are very |asy to crack| so decipherment efforts
have generally focused ------------ etic ciphers
----------------------------------------------------------

Voynich:

----------------------------------------------------------
yptographersasy to crack
----------------------------------------------------------

6.) Once more:

Master table:
----------------------------------------------------------
Th ------------ e working hypothesis for most decipherment
at|empts in the|20th century, including an informal team
of ------------aphers led by William F. Friedman in the
early 1950s. Simple substitution ciphers can be excluded,
because they are very easy to crack; so decipherment efforts
have generally focused on polyalphabetic ciphers
----------------------------------------------------------

Voynich:

----------------------------------------------------------
yptographersasy to crackempts in the
----------------------------------------------------------

7.) If your window comes to rest on the edge of the master table, you just copy
the visible characters and go on with the next copying process:

Master table:
----------------------------------------------------------
This has been the working hypothesis for most decipherment
attempts in the 20th century, including an informal team
of NSA cryptographers led by William F. Friedman in ------------
early 1950s. Simple substitution ciphers can be exc|uded,       |
because they are very easy to crack; so deciphermen ------------
have generally focused on polyalphabetic ciphers
----------------------------------------------------------

Voynich:

----------------------------------------------------------
yptographersasy to crackempts in theuded,
----------------------------------------------------------

8.) And so on.

If this procedure was used in the creation of the VM, it has several
consequences:

*) The actual text sample from which all statistical analysis works is not the
some 235k chars of the VM EVA transcription, but more a corpus of 1000 or 2000
chars at the most.

*) Most of what is observed empirically as "a rule" according to which the VM
was enciphered would turn out to be statistical aberrations in the master
table. (For a small sample as the master table, it is not unreasonable to
expect large deviations from expectation values.)

*) Deviations from usually observed rules would probably point to places in the
VM where one batch copy ended and the next one begun: End of one batch and the
beginning of the next would be uncorrelated.

*) If a batch from a master table is found in the VM, it should be followed
with the next letter from the master sequence with a high probability
(= "always, unless this spot happened to be the end of one batch and the
beginning of the next"). The last letter of any master sequence (after being
copied to the VM) would be followed by a completely unrelated letter in the VM,
since arriving at the end of the master sequence forced the author to begin
with a new batch.

I'm not concinved that this is the true nature of things. But I feel the
hypothesis has several benefits:

*) It seems to explain the odd mix of regularities and exceptions we tend to
observe in the VM: In a nutshell, "Regluarities" would stem from the limited
size of the master table (which by nature allows only so many
variations), "Exceptions" come from batch breaks.

*) It was well within the scope of a 15th century trickster.

*) It can be falsified: A bit more of number crunching should make it possible
to reconstruct sequence length and the master sequences, if there are any.

Cheers,

Elmar

-------------------------------------------------
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