In chapter one of The Code Book, author Simon Singh argues that it requires a “sufficiently sophisticated level of scholarship in several disciplines,” such as Linguistics, Statistics and Mathematics, to arrive at the Frequency Analysis method in decrypting substitution ciphers. Opponents of this argument contend that mere amateurs are now intuitively using this technique, and that this is evidence against such a claim.
As Dr. Bruff has previously mentioned in class, the very popular daytime game show, “Wheel of Fortune,” is perhaps a child’s first introduction to Frequency Analysis. He/she would sit in front of the TV and enthusiastically attempt to solve the puzzle. Eventually, he/she realizes that there is a common pattern and that certain letters appear more often than others, thus effectively employing the Frequency Analysis technique. At this point, it is important to ask ourselves: does the fact that children can perform Frequency Analysis make this method any less sophisticated? The answer is no.
The simplest way to demonstrate this is by drawing an analogy. We have all, at one point in time, been in a situation similar to this one: you find yourself struggling with a Biology concept and approach your mother, who happens to be a doctor, for help. Before she goes on to explain it to you, she comments that what you are studying now is what she only began to learn in freshman year of college. Does this mean that the Biology concept has become outdated and is no longer relevant? Certainly not. Medicine and other fields of Biology would not have advanced had it not been for this seemingly trivial concept, and it still required a refined level of thought to arrive at that point. The same applies to Cryptanalysis.
Although Cryptanalysis is quickly advancing and new methods of decrypting ciphers are always being discovered, it is still important to appreciate the initial techniques that led to this progression. Therefore, when we respond to the question of whether or not it required a sophisticated level of scholarship to arrive at the Frequency Analysis method, it is important to value the skill and knowledge it involved and not take it for granted like we do with Biology concepts.