A Heuristic Analysis of the Binary Walkway

Peter Huett Daez*, Ph.D., Saloni Langer, Ph.D., Barnabas Brennan**

* Case Western Reserve University, Department of Computer Science.

** This author contributed only minor work to this research.


The meaning of the Binary Walkway is a topic of much debate. It became necessary to take an heuristic approach to solving the mystery of the binary code left in the pavement leading to the Case Quad on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. The transcribed digits were run through an algorithm designed to decode the hidden message through approximations.


The infamous Binary Walkway was first described by Lewis and Clark during their initial expedition of 1804, but the stone structure was not a serious topic of research until it was unearthed by Korean tourists looking to expand their bubble-tea franchise. In response, the Case Institute of Technology was constructed in 1882 around the mysterious erection to study the walkway.

Although it was rapidly postulated that the walkway encoded some message, cryptographers struggled to unveil its secrets. It was recently proven that an exact decryption of the code inscribed in the Binary Walkway is impossible to derive (Jones 2015).

Here, a heuristic approach is implemented to analyze the string of binary digits. A modified implementation of Dijkstra’s algorithm using approximations is shown to be sufficient to translate the string of 0s and 1s into discernible script.


To save grant money, an intern transcribed the initial string of binary digits onto IBM punched cards that could be read by the oldest computer available. The algorithm used to analyze the initial string is based on heuristic principles. The computer did not have enough RAM on its memory cassette for the entire sequence, so only the second half was used.

The program begins with a list of known and commonly used distinct binary strings and randomly permutes substrings of these inputs. It terminates when a permutation approximately matches a substring of the binary walkway code within an error threshold of log(substring length). Through repetition of this process, the algorithm generate a series of matches that can be identified within the initial string.


Initial runs of the algorithm yielded >>1000 distinct patterns in the binary string. After reducing the threshold and exceeding 1.4 million iterations, the algorithm’s results narrowed to <10 patterns.

Most Common Strings

Several distinct substrings were identified at different points in the initial string

  • The most common binary string approximated was identified as 0110100001100101011011000110110001101111. Converting the binary value to ASCII encoded text, the string translates to the letters H, E, L, L, and O.
  • An approximate distinct string composed of digits from the end of the initial string was identified as 101010. Converting the binary value to a decimal value, the string translates to the real number 42.


While other strings were approximated by the algorithm, the two identified in the results section were either the most common or the final distinct string identified. This may provide evidence to an intention to greet. Further time is necessary for the algorithm to approximate the remainder of the initial binary string. It is possible that the string is script for a function determining the question to life, the universe, and everything, which would logically be solved by the number 42. More research and funding are needed to further explore this hypothesis.


  1. Jones, Priscilla L, and Hermon F. Cannon, and Kam Reinhardt. “Heuristic Approaches to Apophenia.” Journal Socratic Scientifica. Cleveland, TN: U.S. Computer Science of America Foundation For Education, 2005. PDF. Accessed November 18, 2015.


PHD for spearheading the research, based on a vision he received after slipping and bumping his head on a television playing Back to the Future.

Barnabas Brennan for getting coffee for the hard-working members of this research group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *