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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Banburismus Process and Joan Clarke

After seeing and reviewing the movie about Alan Turing movie: The Imitation Game,  I took my research obsession to looking further at Joan Elisabeth Clarke,  Turings sometime fiance, and colleague at Bletchley Park during WWII.  She was also an award winning Cambridge mathematician. Portrayed in the movie by actress Keira Knightley.

In her WP article it was mentioned that she was a cryptanalyst and a practitioner of what was called Banburismus,  a method used to simplify code breaking. Expanded by Turing and possibly improved by Clarke and other members of the team. Some of this work is still considered confidential.

There is a lengthy article about the Banburismus  process in the WP.    A fascinating look at how a polyalphabetic substitution cypher based on the wheels of the Enigma machine could be simplified with a hand and visualizing algorithm. The article even gives several examples.  Leads to an appreciation of how difficult this method was without programmable computing.  Also an early look at text analytics.

Further, it is mentioned that this was a development of the 'clock method', developed by Polish cryptanalyst Jerzy Rozycki.    Pointing to the key work done, barely mentioned in the movie, by the Polish group.

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