Using playing cards to store hidden data:

The Implied Card Method for

Encoding Data Into Playing Cards.

Encoding Data Into Playing Cards.

Using The Recursive Implied Card Method to encode text:

Because the Recursive Method reuses cards that represented 1s at the start of the pack, it becomes less useful when we are encoding text and are using as many zeroes as possible. For one thing, more zeroes mean that there are fewer cards to use for the Recursive Method. It becomes apparent that the choice between having lots of 0s (to make us use fewer cards overall) and lots of 1s (to enable more recursions), makes the best way of mapping numbers to letters, and the best bit length, a complicated matter. If we have lots of 1s in our numbers then we get to do more recursions, but on the other hand we use up more cards in each recursion. If we have lots of 0s then we reuse more cards, but have fewer to use for the recursions. The higher quantity of 0s also raises the chances of us not being able to use all the cards at the end of the pack on the first run, and when that happens it becomes more unlikely we'll be able to fit those numbers into the extra cards supplied by the Recursive method.

To demonstrate how the Recursive Method works when encoding text, we use our previous long string, "Hello I am trying to encode as many characters of text as possible into a single pack of fifty two playing cards using a method that maps the cards onto carefully chosen binary numbers" and the Mapping Tables from when we were encoding text using the Basic Method.

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Mapping Table 1 used letters of the English alphabet sorted by frequency, mapped against 5-bit binary numbers sorted by *numerical* order. Using this mapping, we manage to encode 29 characters of our message into the pack on the first run before we start the recursion. We fit in the letters, "Hello I am trying to encode as many c." There are 4 cards left over: the 2, 4 and 7 of Diamonds, and the 4 of Spades.

We split the pack into Parts 1a, 1b and 2, and we are able to fit an extra 6 characters in. We have to stop with 7 cards remaining though because we have a run of 7 consecutive zeroes, which if encoded wouldn't appear in the decoding. The numbers we are trying to encode but can't, are: 00000, 00111 (i.e. "e" followed by "r").

If we split the pack again into Parts 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b and 3, then Part 2a (=Part 3) only has 5 cards in it so we can't use it to encode further cards. In all we have managed to fit 35 characters into the pack. This amounts to having the message: "Hello I am trying to encode as many charact".

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When using Mapping Table 2 (5-bit binary numbers sorted by the number of bits in them, mapped onto the letters of the alphabet sorted by frequency), we manage to encode 33 characters of our message into the pack. We fit in the letters, "Hello I am trying to encode as many chara". There are 4 cards left over: the 6 of Clubs, the 7 and Queen of Hearts, and the 10 of Diamonds.

We split the pack into Parts 1a, 1b and 2. Part 1a (=Part 2) has 15 cards in it. We encode an extra 7 characters ending up with 5 spare cards. We can't encode into these cards as there is a string of 6 zeroes starting in the 7th character and leading into the 8th. If we try, it won't decode properly.

If we split the pack into Parts 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b and 3, then we will only have 3 cards in part 2a (=Part 3) so we can't encode any more cards. In all we have managed to fit 40 characters into the pack. This amounts to having the message: "Hello I am trying to encode as many characters of".

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When using Mapping Table 3 (6-bit binary numbers sorted by the number of bits in them, mapped onto the letters of the alphabet sorted by frequency), we manage to encode 34 characters of our message into the pack. We fit in the letters, "Hello I am trying to encode as many charac". There are 6 cards left over: the 8 of Diamonds, the 8 of Spades, the King of Spades, the 5 of Clubs, the King of Hearts and the 3 of Diamonds. We can't encode into the last 6 cards as there are too many consecutive zeroes.

We split the pack into Parts 1a, 1b and 2. Part 1a (=Part 2) has 11 cards in it. We can encode just one more letter ("t"), then we have a string of ten consecutive 0s in the following letters ("e" and "r": 000000, 000011) so we can't encode any more letters and we end up with 10 unused cards.

In total we have only encoded 35 characters, which is 5 fewer than before. This mainly due to the long bit length making it hard to use the final few cards.

In this particular example, the Recursive Method didn't take anything away from the encoding but it didn't particularly add to it either.

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When we use Mapping Table 4 (7-bit binary numbers sorted by the number of bits in them, mapped onto the letters of the alphabet sorted by frequency), we only manage to encode 31 characters ("Hello I am trying to encode as many cha") because we have a sequence of 11 consecutive zeroes when we have only 11 cards left to use. When we split the pack to into Parts 1a and 1b, then Part 1a only has 9 cards in it, so we can't encode any more.

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Just for interest's sake, if we use 5-bit numbers sorted by the number of 1 bits in them *from highest to lowest* (instead of from lowest to highest), mapped onto the letters of the alphabet sorted by frequency, then our table looks like this:

Numbers without any 1s: 00000 (00): [Unassigned] Numbers with one occurrence of 1: 00001 (01): [Unassigned] 00010 (02): [Unassigned] 00100 (04): [Unassigned] 01000 (08): [Unassigned] 10000 (16): z Numbers with two occurrences of 1s: 00011 (03): q 00101 (05): j 00110 (06): x 01001 (09): k 01010 (10): v 01100 (12): b 10001 (17): y 10010 (18): w 10100 (20): g 11000 (24): p Three 1s: 00111 (07): f 01011 (11): m 01101 (13): u 01110 (14): c 10011 (19): d 10101 (21): l 10110 (22): h 11001 (25): r 11010 (26): s 11100 (28): n Four 1s: 01111 (15): i 10111 (23): o 11011 (27): a 11101 (29): t 11110 (30): e Five 1s: 11111 (31): Not a character : End of the pack

Using this we can encode 15 characters on the first run, which amounts to "Hello I am trying t". We have 2 cards left over. We haven't encoded many letters, but we have 36 cards available for our Part 2 (=Part 1a).

In our first recursion (with Part 2) we encode another 10 characters. Despite having only four cards for the last character we manage to encode it correctly. We end up with 1 leftover card. Our Part 3 (=Part 2a) will have 26 cards in it so we can continue encoding.

In our second recursion (with Part 3) we encode another 7 characters. We have 4 cards leftover. Our Part 4 (= Part 3a) will have 16 cards in it so we can continue encoding.

In our third recursion (with Part 4) we encode another 3 characters. We have 5 cards left over, but we can't use them as the next number we need to encode is 11110 and the final 0 would appear as a 1 when it gets decoded. We have 12 cards to use in our future Part 5.

In our fourth recursion (with Part 5) we encode another 2 characters. We have 5 cards leftover which we can't use because the next number ends in a zero again. We have 9 cards available for our future Part 6.

In our fifth recursion (with Part 6) we encode another 2 characters. We have 2 cards left over. We have 6 cards available for our future Part 7 (Part 6a).

In our 6th recursion (with Part 7) we encode just one more character. We have 3 cards left over. We have 4 cards available for our future Part 8 (Part 7a), but that won't be enough to encode our next character so we stop here.

In all we have managed to encode 40 characters: "Hello I am trying to encode as many characters of". This is exactly the same amount as when we used 5-bit numbers sorted by the number of bits from lowest to highest, using recursion. Of course how we encoded them was a lot more complicated this time, but it shows that the Recursive Method can compensate for a lack of zeroes.

Two Part Mappings:

The recursive method is most productive when there are plenty of 1s in the first run of the pack of cards. However cards that aren't going to be used recursively are most efficient when there are plenty of 0s. For an encoded piece of text to work well with both parts, that would need quite a lot of luck. Therefore a solution that might seem to make sense is to have two separate mappings depending on where in the pack the cards are going to be encoded to: a mapping that is "1 heavy" for the part of the pack that will produce future recursive sections, and a mapping that is "0 heavy" for the rest.

In practice this idea becomes complicated, and in most situations the chances of doing recursions becomes impossible. The problem with the idea is that if we aren't extremely lucky, we can end up encoding numbers across boundaries between the two mapping systems. This will produce nonsense when decoded in either mapping system. If we decide to hold back those cards rather than use them, then there is nowhere to put them where they won't cause just as much confusion. Therefore using two (or more) mappings will only work if (a) we are extremely lucky or (b) someone thinks up a clever thing to do with the extra cards.

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