We have seen the future, and it sucks.

The Algorithms That Automatically Date Medieval Manuscripts

19th January 2013

Read it.

Nothing worse than a wallflower medieval manuscript.

Historians say the charters clearly show how the organisation became militarised in response to the call for a Second Crusade in 1145, triggered by Muslim forces recapturing various towns in the region.

Will the Islamophobia never cease?

Their approach is to use a subset of some 10,000 charters that are dated and to look for changes in language over time that could be used to date other documents.  For example, Tilahun and co say that the phrase “amicorum meorum vivorum et mortuorum”, which means “of my friends living and dead”, was popular between the years 1150 and 1240 but not at other times. And the phrase “Francis et Anglicis”, which is a form of address meaning “to French and English”, was phased out when England lost Normandy to the French in 1204.

However, the statistical approach is much more rigorous than simply looking for common phrases. Tilahun and co’s computer search looks for patterns in the distribution of words occurring once, twice, three times and so on. “Our goal is to develop algorithms to help automate the process of estimating the dates of undated charters through purely computational means,” they say.

We have the technology.

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