|Home» A Brief History of Codes Research|
A Brief History of Codes Research
1. According to traditional Jewish sources the Torah in general, and the Book of Genesis in specific, contain a wealth of information in cryptic form. This information is encoded in a number of different ways. One of the ways mentioned is in the form of ELS's (Equidistant Letters Sequences). Several examples of this are given. Further documentation on this subject is in preparation.
2. About sixty years ago Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl began to investigate ELS's. This research produced astonishing results, some of which were collected, posthumously, in the book Torat Chemed.
3. In '83 the mathematician Prof. Eliyahu Rips began to conduct quantitative research into the subject: He primarily investigated the occurrence of words as ELS's clustering at an appropriate place in the text. An impressive example of his work appeared in the periodical, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, Vol. 151, Part I ('88), p 165.
4. Here is a chronicle of the events surrounding the publication of the Statistical Science paper (for a more detailed explanation click here):
- In the spring of '85 Doron Witztum and Eliyahu Rips discovered the phenomenon of convergences between pairs of conceptually related words in the Book of Genesis. Shortly thereafter they defined a methodology for evaluating the significance of these convergences. The necessary software was prepared by Yoav Rosenberg.
- Later that summer WRR (Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yoav Rosenberg) decided to investigate convergences between the names and appellations of famous rabbinical personalities and their dates of birth and death. To this end a list of personalities was prepared, using the Encyclopedia of Great Men in Israel as the basis. The list was to include only the most famous individuals, i.e. those whose entries consisted of at least three columns of text, and for whom dates of birth and/or death were cited. A list of names and appellations was prepared before the experiment began, by Prof. Shlomo Havlin, then head of the Dept. of Bibliography and Librarianship at Bar Ilan University, following professional guidelines. The rules of orthography and the form of the Hebrew date were also established a priori by the linguist Yaakov Orbach, o.b.m.
- Measurements of the convergences indicated that there is a very strong tendency for the names of the personalities to converge with their associated dates. WRR published their results in a preprint describing their research, in the autumn of '86.
- In response to the paper, Prof. Diaconis proposed that a new list of famous personalities be prepared, to be investigated using the exact same program.
- To compile the new list WRR took those personalities whose entries in the Encyclopedia were between 1.5 and 3 columns of text, and for whom a date of birth and/or death were cited. The dates were written in exactly the same format as was previously established. This time, too, the list of names and appellations was prepared a priori by Prof. Havlin, using the same professional criteria. [Later, in the autumn of '96 Prof. Havlin issued a document describing the professional guidelines he used in compiling both the first and the second list of names and appellations. To read this document click here].
- Measurements were made using the same program as in the first experiment. The results were very successful. A paper describing the two experiments was published (as a preprint) in the winter of '88.
- A shortened version of this paper was submitted for publication in PNAS by the mathematician Prof. Robert J. Aumann. Negotiations were conducted regarding publication. In the course of these negotiations Prof. Diaconis first proposed, in a letter dated 3 Aug. '88, that a new test be used, involving a large number of random permutations. Eventually the details of the test, the number of permutations and the requisite level of significance, were agreed upon by Prof. Diaconis and Prof. Aumann (as laid down in a letter dated 7 Sept. '90, written by Prof. Aumann and approved by Prof. Diaconis two days later).
- Prof. Aumann delivered a copy of the agreement to WRR, who had taken no part in the negotiations. At Prof. Aumann's recommendation a new paper was composed, even before the experiment was run. This version described the new test, leaving out the results, which did not yet exist. This paper was sent to Prof. Diaconis and to several other well known statisticians. They approved the test as it was described in the paper, and they stipulated (each one independently) the level of significance that should be required.
- The experiment was run in the winter of '91. The results were very significant:
p = 0.000016, well beyond the proposed cutoffs. The results were then incorporated into the paper. The paper was finally published in the journal Statistical Science, Vol. 9 ('94) No. 3, 429-438. To read this paper click here. [The HTML version for the Statistical Science paper, was made by Ari Haviv whom we would like to thank. To Ari Haviv's site click here.]
5. In the winter of '88 the book The additional Dimension (Hamemad Hanosaf), by Doron Witztum, was published. This book presented many examples, primarily intuitive ones, illustrating the kinds of subjects covered by the phenomenon under discussion, and the typical geometrical patterns of the convergences.
6. Following publication of the paper in Statistical Science Prof. Rips was invited to give a guest lecture to the Israeli National Academy of Sciences on the subject of: "ELS's in the Book of Genesis: the Statistical Significance of the Phenomenon" (March '96).
7. Since WRR's experiment on the second list, other experiments involving different lists have been conducted, including several designed to replicate the original second list experiment. A number of these have been published as preprints, including one published in BDD, Journal of Torah and Scholarship [No. 7 (summer '98), Bar-Ilan University Press, Ramat-Gan]. Some of these papers can be found at this site. To read them click here.
8. At the beginning of '99, several lists of names and appellations were compiled by Dr Simcha Emanuel, a specialist in rabbinical history at Tel-Aviv University. He was engaged by MBBK (McKay, Bar-Natan, Bar-Hillel & Kalai), opponents of the Codes' research, and his work was guided by them without WRR's knowledge.
One of the lists was intended to "mimic" WRR's second list. Emanuel's new list contains names and appellations of the personalities included in WRR's second list which he collected without seeing Prof. Havlin's original names and appellations for it.
We repeated WRR's original experiment exactly, with one single change: Instead of Havlin's names and appellations, we used Emanuel's.
The experiment succeeded with considerable significance. You can read about it in our paper "New Statistical Evidence for a Genuine Code in Genesis".