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What is an automatic cryptogram solver?

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Quick Answer

Automatic cryptogram solvers such as quipqiup solve substitution ciphers, in which each letter in a written passage is substituted with a different letter. Cryptoquips are cipher puzzles that preserve word boundaries and substitute the letters, while patristocrats include substituted letters but don't keep the original word boundaries. Puzzles that involve substitution ciphers often appear on newspaper puzzle pages.

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Full Answer

Solving cryptograms involves noting how often each letter appears and looking for single-letter words. "I" and "A" are the most common single-letter words in the English language, so single letters in a cryptogram puzzle are likely to represent one of those words. Frequency analysis involves looking for repeated letters in the puzzle and comparing them to the most commonly used letters in English. For example, if a letter appears much more often than any other, it is likely an "E" or a "T."

Possessive endings and contractions can also provide clues for cryptogram solvers, as there are a limited number of such endings in the English language. Once the possible common letters are identified, the solver can work on decoding two- and three-letter words. Digraph patterns are also useful; for example, if a word ends with "H," there are only a few possibilities for the penultimate letter. Paying attention to common words, sentence structures and repetitions is useful when solving a cryptogram.

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