# Reed6bVigenere ```Scott Reed
MATH 714
07/21/09
Vigenere Cipher
This week, I started to look at the Vigenere cipher. A Vigenere cipher is one that uses a
shifted alphabet, called a Caesar shift, in a periodic manner based on a keyword. I more difficult
version of Vigenere cipher uses a keyword that is the same size as the original message, making
decoding a message much more difficult. The type are sometimes called “one time pad”, as the
encoding scheme can only be used for that message due to the number of characters being equal.
The cipher is written mathematically by Bauer1 as:
A : i    with
i
Nn
Nn
Ai : Ai ( x)  x  i
showing the cipher is a shift of the letters Ai based on the modulus of Nn. A less complicated
mathematical definition is given by Hamilton2 using modular arithmetic as:
c  ( p  k ) mod 26
where: c = ciphertext character value
p = plaintext character value
k = keyword character value
A key to encoding and decoding messages using the Vignere cipher is the Vigenere
Square shown in figure 1. The original message letters, or plaintext, form the column headings.
The keyword letters are the labels of the rows. The letters are given a numeric value from 0 to
25, where A=0 continuing sequentially until Z=25. The letters of the plaintext are shifted the
number of letters corresponding to the number of the letter in the key. The square shows the
shifts for each letter, easing the encoding or decoding of the message when the key is known.
As an example, the phrase “applied mathematics” will be encoded using the keyword of
“math.” Using Hamilton’s formula, the first entry will be applied with A=0, M=12. So that:
c = (0+12)mod26
c = 12mod26
c = 12
c=M
A P
Plaintext
M A
Keyword
Ciphertext M P
P
T
I
L
H
S
I E
M A
X E
D M
T H
W T
A T
M A
M T
H
T
L
E
H
L
M
M
Y
A
A
A
T I C S
T H M A
M P O S
The cipher text is then “mpisxewtmtllyampos”, which is very perplexing when seen and it is not
known what it is. In my first attempt at using the cipher, I encoded the alphabet using
randomized letters in the alphabet to get the following cipher text.
Plaintext
Keyword
Ciphertext
A
K
K
B
L
M
C
X
Z
D
C
F
E
Y
C
F
Z
E
G
W
C
H
A
H
I
N
V
J
H
Q
K
I
S
L
J
U
M
B
N
N
O
B
O
G
U
P
V
K
Q
S
I
R
E
V
S
T
K
T
M
F
U
D
X
V
U
P
W
R
N
X
P
M
Y
F
D
Z
Q
P
Figure 1 – Vigenere Square
This would be an example of a one time pad, where the message size has an equally sized
keyword that does not repeat as normal. Decoding messages using the cipher is the opposite of
the encoding. Using the table, find the cipher text in the row of the keyword; then the heading of
that column is the plaintext. Mathematically, it is found using the additive inverse in modular
arithmetic so that2:
p  (c  (26  k )) mod 26
The problem of decoding a message written in the Vigenere cipher without knowing the
key is simplified if the keyword length is found. One method of determining the keyword length
is called the Friedman test2.
0.0265n
,
w
(0.065  IC )  n( IC  0.0385)
where: w= keyword length
n= message length
IC= index of coincidence
for relatively large n
The incidence of coincidence is the “probability that two randomly selected letters from the text
are identical.”2 For a Caesar shift, the IC is around 0.065, and for the Vigenere cipher about
0.0385. Another method for determining the keyword length is presented in Tilborg3. Kasiski’s
method is based on repeated segments of the cipher text. The method is completed by finding a
string of repeated characters, noting their positions in the text. The keyword length should divide
the difference of the positions of the repeated characters. If more than one set of repeated
characters can be found, then the keyword length is likely a common divisor of the differences in
positions of the repeated character strings.
Once the keyword length is found, Hamilton2 provides a method to determine the
keyword. Since the size of the keyword is known, the cipher text can be split into subsets, one
for each character of the keyword. If the index of coincidence of each subset is found, it should
be around 0.065, indicating a Caesar shift, which each subset is. The relative frequencies of the
letters in each coset are compared to the relative frequcncies of the letters in the standard English
language. Let the vector b be the frequencies in standard English so the b=(b1,b2,. . .b26), where
b1 is the frequency of the letter a and b26 is the frequency of the letter z. The vector a is the letter
frequency of the shifted letters of a subset of the cipher text, where a=(a1,a2,. . .a26). To determine
the keyword letter, the vector a is rotated so that:
a 0  a  (a1 , a 2 , , a 26 )
a1  (a 2 , a3 ,, a 25, a 26 , a1 )

a k  (a k 1 , a k  2 ,, a 26 , a1 , , a k 1 , a k )

a 25  (a 26 , a1 , , a 24 , a 25 )
The scalar product for each ak and b is calculated. The index k with the greatest scalar product is
likely the value of the letter of the keyword for that subset. This is due to the fact that parallel
vectors should have the greatest dot product, as orthogonal vectors have a scalar product of zero.
This is what I had found on the Vigenere cipher. I am not sure where it might head from
here. Hamilton has developed a program to encode, decode, and decipher the Vigenere for the
TI-83. I may look to develop a program also, or to look more into the one time pad problem.
1
Bauer, F.L. Decrypted Secrets: Methods and Maxims of Cryptology. Springer. New York,
1997.
2
Hamilton, Michael and Bill Yonkosky. “The Vigenere Cipher with the TI-83.” Mathematics
and Computer Education. 38.1. Winter 2004.
3
Tilborg, Henk C.A. van. Fundamental of Cryptology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Boston,
2000.
```