[spambayes-dev] I used SpamBayes for class project - thanks!

Elizabeth Gifford liz.gifford at gmail.com
Thu May 3 22:51:01 CEST 2007

Hi SpamBayes developers,

I just wanted to let you know that I used SpamBayes for my term  
project in my Machine Learning class, and to say thanks.  I thought  
there might be some academic interest here, and that I'd share with  
the list in return for the great code of yours that I used.

The overall assignment was to "do something with evolutionary  
algorithms."  The goal of my project was more or less to attack a  
spam filter and attempt to use an EA to find weaknesses it might  
have.  I set up a blind watchmaker sort of natural selection/ 
evolution environment using a SpamBayes filter that I had trained on  
an old training corpus as the fitness function.  The program I wrote  
attempted to evolve a generic formula that worked sort of like  
"MadLibs" to write spam emails that could get past the filter.  I  
started off with almost zero knowledge of how a spam filter works,  
and tried to keep it that way while I wrote the algorithm so that it  
would be as naive as possible.  I've since read up on SpamBayes and  
some of the math behind it, and it looks really interesting.  I'm  
looking forward to taking more time to look through the codebase.

Now that the project is completed, I see where I could have trained  
the filter on different content or parts of the evolution structure  
that I could have written differently to make this project more  
successful, but that's research for you!  This was a very quick proof  
of concept project, and if I were to continue with this research  
there are certainly a lot of things I would do differently and many  
more complicated techniques that I'd like to try.

If anyone is interested in reading about the project in more detail,  
I've posted the paper I wrote here:

Thanks again for maintaining this cool project.  I hope you'll take  
my contribution in the intellectual sense that is intended, and not  
as an attack. :)

Liz Gifford

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