Segmenting Numerical Substitution Ciphers
Nada Aldarrab | Jonathan May
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing
Deciphering historical substitution ciphers is a challenging problem. Example problems that have been previously studied include detecting cipher type, detecting plaintext language, and acquiring the substitution key for segmented ciphers. However, attacking unsegmented ciphers is still a challenging task. Segmentation (i.e. finding substitution units) is essential for cracking those ciphers. In this work, we propose the first automatic methods to segment those ciphers using Byte Pair Encoding (BPE) and unigram language models. Our methods achieve an average segmentation error of 2% on 100 randomly-generated monoalphabetic ciphers and 27% on 3 real historical homophonic ciphers. We also propose a method for solving non-deterministic ciphers with existing keys using a lattice and a pretrained language model. Our method leads to the full solution of the IA cipher; a real historical cipher that has not been fully solved until this work.
Can Sequence-to-Sequence Models Crack Substitution Ciphers?
Nada Aldarrab | Jonathan May
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)
Decipherment of historical ciphers is a challenging problem. The language of the target plaintext might be unknown, and ciphertext can have a lot of noise. State-of-the-art decipherment methods use beam search and a neural language model to score candidate plaintext hypotheses for a given cipher, assuming the plaintext language is known. We propose an end-to-end multilingual model for solving simple substitution ciphers. We test our model on synthetic and real historical ciphers and show that our proposed method can decipher text without explicit language identification while still being robust to noise.
Translating Translationese: A Two-Step Approach to Unsupervised Machine Translation
Nima Pourdamghani | Nada Aldarrab | Marjan Ghazvininejad | Kevin Knight | Jonathan May
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Given a rough, word-by-word gloss of a source language sentence, target language natives can uncover the latent, fully-fluent rendering of the translation. In this work we explore this intuition by breaking translation into a two step process: generating a rough gloss by means of a dictionary and then ‘translating’ the resulting pseudo-translation, or ‘Translationese’ into a fully fluent translation. We build our Translationese decoder once from a mish-mash of parallel data that has the target language in common and then can build dictionaries on demand using unsupervised techniques, resulting in rapidly generated unsupervised neural MT systems for many source languages. We apply this process to 14 test languages, obtaining better or comparable translation results on high-resource languages than previously published unsupervised MT studies, and obtaining good quality results for low-resource languages that have never been used in an unsupervised MT scenario.