An MIT professor who has done research on translating ancient texts says it will be difficult to crack the coded messages found in a Missouri murder victim's pocket that the FBI has sought the public's help in deciphering.
Professor Regina Barzilay, an expert in using statistics and computers to decipher the texts, says the problem is the small amount of information contained in the notes.
But she says researchers at MIT and the University of Southern California are working on techniques that could someday potentially crack the code.
"You need to have a sufficient amount of data in order to train your statistical model. ... Current techniques we've developed require some amount of data to do it. The goal would be to require less and less data," she said.
The FBI this week took the unusual step of appealing to the public for help in cracking the code found on two notes in a Missouri murder victim's pocket.
The FBI said that despite work by its cryptanalysis unit as well as the help of the American Cryptogram Association, the meanings of the two messages remain a mystery.
"We are really good at what we do," said Dan Olson, chief of the FBI's Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit, "but we could use some help with this one."
The note was found on the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick, who had been murdered and dumped in a field in St. Louis.
"Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes might come up with a brilliant new idea," Olson said in a statement.
Click here to see the FBI Web page on the mystery of the code.
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