This quiz is really just an optimization problem.  It's pretty trivial to do a
conversion to and from a Goedel number.  See Eric Lavigne's under-30-lines
solution for a great example of this.  The challenge arises when the message
gets big enough that finding all of the factors takes significant time.

Eric I. figured out how to cut quite a few corners on the decoding process, so I
want to take a look at his code.

Before we get into the actual encoding and decoding process though, let's talk a
bit about primes.  Obviously, we need a source of prime numbers to do our work. 
Ruby does ship with a standard mathn library that includes a Prime class.  Many
solutions did put that library to good use.  There are two downsides to that
approach though:  mathn is a pure Ruby library and the Prime class
implementation in Ruby 1.8 is not very clever.  Both of these slow us down.

To get around that, Eric built a drop-in replacement for the Prime class that
cheats.  It simply reads the numbers from a huge list you can download, skipping
any calculation effort.  This turns out to be faster for our needs.  Here's the
code:

	# Generates a stream of prime numbers as they're read from a sequence
	# of files with names such as "primes1.txt", "primes2.txt", and so
	# forth.  Such files can be downloaded from:
	#   http://primes.utm.edu/lists/small/millions/
	
	class Prime
	  def initialize
	    @current_file = 0
	    @io = open_next_file
	    @current_primes = []
	    @current_index = 0
	  end
	
	  def next
	    load_next_primes until value = @current_primes[@current_index]
	    @current_index += 1
	    value
	  end
	
	  private
	
	  def load_next_primes
	    while true
	      while line = @io.gets
	        if line =~ /^\s*\d+(\s+\d+)*\s*$/
	          @current_primes = line.split.map { |e| e.to_i }
	          @current_index = 0
	          return
	        end
	      end
	      @io.close
	      open_next_file
	    end
	  end
	
	  def open_next_file
	    @current_file += 1
	    filename = "primes%d.txt" % @current_file
	    begin
	      @io = open(filename)
	    rescue
	      raise "ran out of primes because couldn't open file \"%s\"" %
	        filename
	    end
	  end
	end

As you can see, this is simple stuff.  The class just opens a file called
primes1.txt when initialize()d (see open_next_file()).  As needed, lines are
read from this file, split() and converted into Integers, and tucked away inside
an Array (see load_next_primes()).  Primes are then just handed out from this
Array (see next()) and when the supply is exhausted new lines are read.  When we
run out of lines, the code will move on to a primes2.txt file.

The site linked to in the comment has the first 15 million primes available in
files like this.  That more than covers the needs of this code, so this turns
out to be a simple but effective cheat to save time.

With a zippy Prime class defined, we are ready to get down to the real work:

	require 'primes'  # or the standard mathn library
	
	# Put the coder in a separate class, so we have the potential to use
	# other coders, such as the one from the Starburst novel.
	class RubyQuizCoder
	  def encode(char)
	    char[0] + 1
	  end
	
	  def decode(number)
	    (number - 1).chr
	  end
	
	  def max_code
	    127
	  end
	end
	
	# ...

Here we see the require for the code that we just examined.  Note that this code
will work fine with a mathn require as well though.

The class defined here is the simple encoding described in the quiz.  As the
comment indicates, pulling this code into the class makes it easy to swap out
with other encoding schemes.

The work horse methods for the solution are encode() and decode(), of course. 
Here's the easy one:

	# ...
	
	def encode(input, primes, coder)
	  goedel_value = 1
	
	  input.each_line do |line|
	    0.upto(line.size - 1) do |i|
	      char = line[i, 1]
	      encoding = coder.encode char
	      next if encoding.nil?  # skip characters without encoding
	      goedel_value *= primes.next ** encoding
	    end
	  end
	
	  puts goedel_value
	end
	
	# ...

The code works its way line by line and character by character through the
input.  Each character is encoded using the RubyQuizCoder class we saw earlier,
used as an exponent for a prime based on its position, and finally multiplied
into the overall Goedel value.  When all of the characters have been dealt with,
the overall value is printed as a result.

The reverse operation is harder to digest, because it's where the optimizations
are hiding:

	# ...
	
	# Attempt to decode quickly by trying to perfectly divide by
	# prime**(2**6), prime**(2**5), prime**(2**4), ..., prime**(2**0) and
	# then adding the powers of 2 for which the division worked without a
	# remainder.  For example, if a number were divisible by prime**101,
	# then it's also divisible by prime**64 * prime**32 * prime**4 *
	# prime**1 since 64 + 32 + 4 + 1 = 101.  So, we'll have to divide the
	# large number exactly 7 times per prime no matter what the exponent.
	# Note: 7 assumes that the encoding results in no value greater than
	# 127.
	def decode(input, primes, coder)
	  goedel_value = input.gets.to_i
	  max_two_expnt = (Math.log(coder.max_code) / Math.log(2)).to_i
	  factors = (0..max_two_expnt).map { |i| [2**i, nil] }
	
	  while goedel_value > 1
	    current_prime = primes.next
	    encoded = 0
	
	    factors[0][1] = current_prime
	    (1..max_two_expnt).each do |i|
	      factors[i][1] = factors[i - 1][1] ** 2
	    end
	
	    factors.reverse_each do |expnt, factor|
	      quotient, remainder = goedel_value.divmod(factor)
	      if remainder == 0
	        encoded += expnt
	        goedel_value = quotient
	      end
	    end
	
	    char = coder.decode(encoded)
	    putc char unless char.nil?
	  end
	end
	
	# ...

The biggest trick in here is the use of factorization to narrow down the
divisions needed.  Until the overall value hits one, each prime is pulled in
turn and factored into the possible divisors.  Each of those numbers is then
tried in reverse order.  Those that divide evenly are added to the encoded
character count and drop the overall count accordingly.  After all of the
factors have been tried, the character count is passed through our RubyQuizCoder
object and the resulting character is printed.

This strategy results in a constant number of divisions for each character and
in most cases, those divisions should be significantly less than the brute force
approach.

The rest of the code just provides an interface to these routines:

	# ...
	
	def usage
	  STDERR.puts "Usage: %s -e[ncode]|-d[ecode] [file]" % $0
	  exit 1
	end
	
	# process command-line args and figure out which method to call
	
	task = nil
	input = nil
	ARGV.each do |arg|
	  case arg
	  when /^-+e/   : task = :encode
	  when /^-+d/   : task = :decode
	  else if input : usage
	       else       input = open(arg)
	       end
	  end
	end
	
	input = STDIN if input.nil?
	primes = Prime.new
	coder = RubyQuizCoder.new
	
	case task
	when :encode : encode(input, primes, coder)
	when :decode : decode(input, primes, coder)
	else           usage
	end

This is just some basic argument parsing code.  It hunts for a -e or -d switch
to figure out if we are encoding or decoding.  It also opens a file of input for
the first non-switch argument or defaults to STDIN.  Failing to select a mode or
providing multiple input parameters triggers the usage message and an exit()
call.  Otherwise, the selected routine is called with the input, a prime
generator, and the coder.

	356592611993533159357704171943707065506245018107843654420869995255779400
	940327637098004636805658940369248254005741705095861927174094085632357462
	907907043655503052325570584135928519171701028451925211424184061134912519
	346213124822184698766352106671144335797309339814960788404357329829880747
	370816749488671200451708065007982023372864606432786154466561150882383337
	665739304198857199016703678239557259404453555953430721034149637848167371
	696741427087919115033228735590823604859393603457456530272005167282069777
	767057670186595718538513692305202904620672162211361327059254731120977063
	134449493970743739621694338383775782689258152219852727482221819916188854
	728922544056620806588370831318213885828889837200379775053853865140225412
	662845287202726609004691108889366849057859320331241672049374448503639685
	391414041859040062271216363732269502663137649053220830210776147948360695
	030849925289805667675539825659032822205396840604174306471211962857755270
	446984071785349996985198175348758225276208258987173267939423506126205306
	366658339817220773597781191289736402029252868902666231417359731588146165
	666320778680777303480755853750057521054497117887073508511901428397946093
	449376833443738252027373639560059173037124844900113551258953525303486104
	043722150604562552368672756555770801627883622940792114968157184742775843
	032899157541783062241525730231786371568328435169052449375068965888786768
	418148739617709373626622156165087821359521473101982925802046545744126160
	160591686651704019368238740807898239650093187094408149981270808624486401
	576666800438277327766454315294642692798530476745070050857038213692995319
	240862517113963583832414299967798488646237585020392202957001143544708578
	006399968115609032521439107622793677586436726234995703756213467526362754
	053665223526567818472971465689078159087061330179433352620768373562074252
	272173230499663950656487104976363578669988246793426315517241324669161225
	95456614469899787029059315850805248000000000000000000000000000000000

Tomorrow we will ...