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20/20 Foresight

Freshmen kick off their first semester at MIT with a timely hack.
October 18, 2016

As members of the class of 2020 dived into their first day of classes at MIT, an unusual eye chart appeared above the entrance to Lobby 7. The banner included the keyword “foresight,” which allowed the curious to use the Vigenère cipher method to decode a message hidden in the chart’s letters: “You may have vision but ours is 20/20. —PFR.” The P in PFR (i.e., the G in GJJ) was crossed out, suggesting that the banner was the work of pre-frosh. The hack was seen as a response to this year’s Admissions Office acceptance letters, which featured an eye chart containing the message “Welcome to MIT, where not all is as it seems” encoded with a Caesar cipher. The 1,113 members of the Class of 2020 were chosen from 19,020 applicants. International citizens representing 63 countries make up a tenth of the class, 67 percent of which went to public school.