Hash Week!

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Hash Week! (Part 3)

Over the last two days we’ve talked about hash functions and their uses in cryptography and elsewhere. Remember that an ideal hash function is basically what cryptographers call a random oracle – given an input, it produces a random number in some range. (In practice this range is always [0,2^(2^n)], with n usually equal to…

Hash Week! (Part 2)

Yesterday we looked at hash functions. As you recall, they’re functions which take an input and generate a random-seeming output. As a quick example, here’s the output of the SHA-256 hash function for the name of the Scottish physicist James Maxwell and a misspelling thereof: SHA256(“James Clerk Maxwell”) = 2667629603913530690117759428994407894024237387971995154086108064226397\ 5353322 SHA256(“James Clark Maxwell”) =…

Hash Week! (Part 1)

Last week NIST anounced the winner of its Cryptographic Hash Function Competition. After five years of review and many rounds of discussion and elimination, the winner is a hash function called Keccak, and its developers deserve many congratulations. It’s a shame hash functions aren’t better known in the general public, because not only are they…