Ruminations about the mysterious 15th century "cipher manuscript"
Medieval scholar: "Sorry, folks, 'proto-Romance language' is not a thing."
The Voynich manuscript is a famous medieval text written in a mysterious language that so far has proven to be undecipherable. Now, Gerard Cheshire, a University of Bristol academic, has announced his own solution to the conundrum in a new paper in the journal Romance Studies. Cheshire identifies the mysterious writing as a "calligraphic proto-Romance" language, and he thinks the manuscript was put together by a Dominican nun as a reference source on behalf of Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon. Apparently it took him all of two weeks to accomplish a feat that has eluded our most brilliant scholars for at least a century.
Algorithmic decipherment is a prime example of a truly unsupervised problem. The first step in the decipherment process is the identification of the encrypted language. We propose three methods for determining the source language of a document enciphered with a monoalphabetic substitution cipher. The best method achieves 97% accuracy on 380 languages. We then present an approach to decoding anagrammed substitution ciphers, in which the letters within words have been arbitrarily transposed. It obtains the average decryption word accuracy of 93% on a set of 50 ciphertexts in 5 languages. Finally, we report the results on the Voynich manuscript, an unsolved fifteenth century cipher, which suggest Hebrew as the language of the document.
Aside: It’s been ages since I’ve seen someone with Refbacks listed on their site!
Artificial intelligence has allowed scientists to make significant progress in cracking a mysterious ancient text, the meaning of which has eluded scholars for centuries.
Interesting news if it’s really true! Though I do feel a bit sad as there are some methods I had wanted to try on this longstanding puzzle, but never had the time to play with.