Cipher Cracking 2010
In this project you will attempt to solve a murder that took place in Adelaide in 1948. This crime remains unsolved till today, but you can use engineering to bring our knowledge closer to the killer. You can read the details about the dead body and the circumstances 
Associated with the dead body was this secret code:
(See the original photograph, as there may be an extra line, and some of the M's may be W's. Some people also think that the last "I" is really a "V". Also the last G is probably really a C). To this day code crackers have been unable to decrypt it.
Weekly progress and questions
This is where you record your progress and ask questions. Make sure you update this every week.
As useful bits of information come to light, just list them here:
Approach and methodology
We expect you to take a structured approach to both the validation of last year's results, and the writing of the software. You should carefully design the big-picture high-level view of the software modules, and the relationships and interfaces between them. Think also about the data transformations needed - you will start off with html web pages, and in the end will need some matlab graphs.
If you knock off this project too easily and are looking for a harder code cracking problem to try your software out on, you can progress to analyzing another famous unsolved mystery: the Voynich Manuscript
We don't really expect you to find the killer, though that would be cool if you do and you'll become very famous overnight. To get good marks we expect you to show a logical approach to trying to find the patterns from the code on the web, and any other attempts to crack the code.
Relationship to possible career path
Whilst the project is fascinating as you'll learn about a specific murder case—and we do want you to have a lot of fun with it—the project does have a hard-core serious engineering side. It will familiarize you with techniques in information theory, probability, statistics, encryption, decryption, and datamining. It will also improve your software skills. The project will also involve writing software code that trawls for patterns on the world wide web (exploiting it as a huge database). This will force you to learn about search engines and databases; and the new tools you develop may lead to new IP in the area of datamining and also make you rich/famous. The types of jobs out there where these skills are useful are in computer security, comms, or in digital forensics. The types of industries that will need you are: the software industry, e-finance industry, e-security, IT industry, Google, telecoms industry, ASIO, ASIS, defence industry (e.g. DSD), etc. So go ahead and have fun with this, but keep your eye on the bigger engineering picture and try to build up an appreciation of why these techniques are useful to our industry. Now go find that killer...this message will self-destruct in five seconds :-)
- Final Report 2010
- Stage 1 Design Document 2010
- Progress Report 2010
- Critical design review 2009: Who killed the Somerton man?
- Final report 2009: Who killed the Somerton man?
- Timeline of the Taman Shud Case
- List of people connected to the Taman Shud Case
- List of facts on the Taman Shud Case that are often misreported
- List of facts we do know about the Somerton Man
- The Taman Shud Case Coronial Inquest
- Letter frequency plots
- Structural Features of the Code
- Markov models
- Primary source material on the Taman Shud Case
- Secondary source material on the Taman Shud Case
- Transition probabilities from selected texts
- Listed poems from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
- Using the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as a one-time pad
- Using the King James Bible as a one-time pad
- Using the Revised Standard Edition Bible as a one-time pad
- Transitions within words
References and useful resources
If you find any useful external links, list them here:
- The taman shud case
- Edward Fitzgerald's translation of رباعیات عمر خیام by عمر خیام
- Adelaide Uni Library e-book collection
- Project Gutenburg e-books
- Foreign language e-books
- UN Declaration of Human Rights - different languages
- Statistical debunking of the 'Bible code'
- Spys in Australia 1948
- The differences between the 5 FitzGerald editions
- ASIO Unofficial History by Frank Cain
- Operation Venona
- Venona documents
- Venona code
- Venona history
- Jacqueline Templeton, Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security Seventh Report - Australian Intelligence/Security Services 1900-1950, Volume 2, 1977
- The Kaiser affair
- One time pads
- Analysis of criminal codes and ciphers
- Code breaking in law enforcement: A 400-year history
- Evolutionary algorithm for decryption of monoalphabetic homophonic substitution ciphers encoded as constraint satisfaction problems