Thursday 26 January 2012

The Voynich Manuscript

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting for a while. I changed jobs, and while I'm enjoying my new job, I'm working longer hours so I haven't had as much time for things like blogging. I also did Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun's online AI course and as you can see here, I did pretty well. Doing the course gave me some ideas. For a while, I've been interested in the Voynich Manuscript, an enigmatic document dating from some time in the 15th century. It's written in an otherwise unknown script, in a language that nobody has been able to identify. Judging by the illustrations, it seems to cover such subjects as alchemy, astrology and herbalism. I personally suspect that it may be written in a conlang, which, if correct, would make it one of the earliest known. I think that by using Artificial Intelligence techniques I might be able to have a go at cracking it. In particular, I'm planning to use a combination of clustering and Hidden Markov Models to try to work out the syntax of the language. In the process I'm working on a Python library for Hidden Markov Models, which I hope other people might find useful.