a python puzzle

Erik Max Francis max at alcyone.com
Wed Sep 25 23:53:51 EDT 2002

Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:

> I think the various responders did this "by hand."  Probably having
> the
> Python source code made it even easier to just eyeball.  In a more
> general sense (just in case anyone doesn't know), the way to solve a
> Caesar cipher like this is to start counting letter frequencies.
> Comparing the frequencies to well-known English letter frequencies
> like:
>     http://gnosis.cx/download/letterfrequency.gif
> lets you start matching letters pretty quickly.  Of course, if you
> don't
> know it's English, the frequency table isn't as accurate.

This wouldn't have worked as well here, since the encrypted text was so
short; furthermore, the fact that it was mostly Python code would have
likely skewed the letter frequencies, since Python keywords, modules,
and builtin names appear more frequently in Python code than general
user-chosen identifiers; the letter frequency of the code would be
biased against the letter frequency of the common "words" in Python,
which is likely to be somewhat different from English as a whole.

 Erik Max Francis / max at alcyone.com / http://www.alcyone.com/max/
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