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< Cryptography

Vigenère Cipher

One of the most famous and simple polyalphabetic cipher is the Vigenere Cipher developed by Blaise de Vigenere in the 16th century. The Vigenère cipher operates in a manner similar to a Caesar cipher, however, rather than shifting the plaintext character by a fixed value n, a keyword (or phrase) is chosen and the ordinal values of the characters in that keyword are used to determine the offset. The process that creates encrypted text is simple, but it was unbroken for 300 years.The system is so simple that the Vigenere encryption system has been discovered and rediscovered dozens of times.

For example, if the keyword is "KEY" and the plaintext is "VIGENERE CIPHER," then first the key must be repeated so that it is the same length as the text (so key becomes keykeykeykeyke). Next, the ordinal value of V (22) is shifted by the ordinal value of K (11) yielding F (6), the ordinal value of I (9) by the ordinal value of E (5) yielding M (13), etc. The keyword is repeated until the entire message is encrypted:


An easier, but equivalent way of encrypting text is by writing out each letter of the alphabet and the key, and simply matching up the letters:



First The V in the first row would up with the F in the second. Then, one would go down a row, and see that the I in the first row lines up with the M in the third. After one reaches the bottom row, then they would continue lining up letters with the second row. This uses the exact same cipher, and is simply an easier method of performing the encryption when doing so by hand.

The Caesar cipher could be seen as a special case of the Vigenère cipher in which the chosen keyword is only a single character long.

An algorithmic way of expressing this cipher would be:

(plain_text_letter + (key_letter - 1)) mod 26 = cipher_text_letter


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